Ronnie O’Sullivan looks to maintain his dominant record over Zhou Yuelong when they collide in the UK Championship on Wednesday.
The Rocket has prevailed in all three of his previous meetings with the Chinese ace, including a 6-0 whitewash in the last 32 of this competition in 2018, while winning 14 of the 16 frames they have played.
That triumph four years ago aided O’Sullivan’s ultimately successful quest for a record-breaking seventh title, and he has also gone on to reach the final following his other two victories over Zhou at the 2018 Northern Ireland Open and 2021 Welsh Open.
Aiming to become the first player to win the same ranking event eight times, he looked impressive during his 6-2 success over 2003 winner Matthew Stevens in the last 32 on Monday, hitting breaks of 107, 102, 94, 81 and 73 along the way.
But he will be wary of the battling qualities possessed by Zhou, who recovered from 5-3 down to deny 2015 World Cup-winning partner Yan Bingtao in the opening round.
The Jumping Dragon knows what it takes to go deep in snooker’s second-most prestigious invitational event, having beaten John Higgins and Jack Lisowski on the way to reaching the 2020 semi-finals, where he succumbed to eventual champion Neil Robertson.
And Zhou arrived in York full of momentum after reaching his third ranking final at the Northern Ireland Open, where he was beaten by inspired home favourite Mark Allen, with that run moving him fourth on the one-year list.
The 24-year-old overcame two Welshmen to qualify for the main draw in Michael White and Jak Jones and, following his fightback against compatriot Yan, he will be confident of claiming a scalp and his first-ever win over O’Sullivan.
The winner of this match will play either Ding Junhui or Jamie Clarke in the UK Championship quarter-finals.
Play gets underway at 1pm GMT on Wednesday with the match contested over the best of 11 frames at the York Barbican.
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