Ronnie O’Sullivan aims to secure a second Tour Championship title when he faces Neil Robertson in the final at the Celtic Manor Resort on Sunday.
O’Sullivan defeated Robertson 10-9 to claim the inaugural Tour Championship title in 2019, equalling Stephen Hendry’s record tally of 36 ranking event wins.
Since then, he has gone on to become World Champion for the sixth time and become the outright most decorated player in the sport’s history, but it yet to follow up last August’s Crucible success.
The Rocket has lost in four consecutive ranking finals for the first time in his career, finishing runner-up in the 2020 Northern Ireland Open and 2020 Scottish Open, as well as this year’s Welsh Open and Players Championship.
He was thrashed 10-3 by a ruthless John Higgins in the Players Championship final last month and will be determined to stop the rot and return to the winner’s enclosure.
O’Sullivan is making a record 58th appearance in a ranking final as he looks to warm up for title world title defence at The Crucible next month in perfect fashion.
He began the week by avenging that Players Championship rout at the hands of Higgins with a 10-8 victory, before battling back from 9-6 down to edge out Barry Hawkins 10-9 in Saturday’s Semi-Final.
Robertson, meanwhile, is appearing in his 32nd career ranking final and a third of the season as he bids to follow up December’s dramatic UK Championship triumph.
The world number four opted out or failed to qualify for a number of events after that UK Championship win and was most recently beaten in the First Round of the Gibraltar Open.
However, he has recaptured his best form in Newport this week, dropping just eight frames en route to the final.
The Australian ace kicked off with a 10-5 win over Jack Lisowski before thrashing an out of sorts Mark Selby 10-3 with three century breaks to his name.
Robertson has made six centuries in total, four more than O’Sullivan, and will look to get out of the blocks quickly in their first competitive meeting since the 2019 Champion of Champions Semi-Final.
Robertson prevailed 6-5 on that occasion but has lost 17 of their 25 previous encounters, including three finals.
Their latest unmissable show-down gets under way from 1pm GMT for a total of eight frames, before being played to a finish over the best of 19 from 7pm.
Ronnie O’Sullivan v Neil Robertson – Players’ View:
O’Sullivan: “I’m sure Neil is going to show up and play, he’s Mr Consistency.
“The way he strikes the ball there is not a lot that can go wrong with him. I’m going to have to find some kind of level to make it a game.”
Robertson: “I did know what I was doing when I chose not to play in a few events, I think people were starting to write me off.
“I know if I’m putting the work in and I feel very good mentally and my preparation is going very well before and during the event then I’ve got a great chance.”