Ronnie O’Sullivan and Ding Junhui renew their friendly rivalry in a mouth-watering UK Championship quarter-final on Friday.
As well as a huge level of mutual respect, the two players also share 10 UK titles between them as they collide for a place in the semi-finals at the York Barbican.
The head-to-head record, which stretches back to the 2005 Masters quarter-finals, would certainly favour the Rocket, who has prevailed in 20 of their previous 28 meetings including each of the last seven.
The seven-time champion has also won six of their seven quarter-final encounters, with Ding’s sole success coming courtesy of a 13-10 triumph at the 2017 World Championship.
Although, the Dragon came through their only previous clash in this tournament, winning 6-4 in the last 16 on the way to his third title in 2019.
O’Sullivan has made a strong start in his latest quest for a record-extending eighth UK crown, dropping just two frames across his commanding victories over 2003 winner Matthew Stevens and Northern Ireland Open runner-up Zhou Yuelong.
The Rocket is through to the last eight of snooker’s second-most prestigious invitational event for the 19th time, and he is a heavy favourite to subsequently become the first player to win the same ranking tournament on eight occasions.
But his opponent will not roll over. Now ranked 38th in the world – and the eighth-highest Chinese player – Ding has enjoyed a timely return to form this week.
Only O’Sullivan, Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry have lifted this trophy more times than the Dragon, who has taken out Barry Hawkins and Jamie Clarke in York and would return to the world’s top 16 by going on to land a fourth crown.
The winner of this match will play either Joe Perry or Tom Ford in the UK Championship semi-finals.
Play gets underway at 1pm GMT on Friday with the match contested over the best of 11 frames at the York Barbican.
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