Two of snooker’s modern greats renew their rivalry in the Quarter-Finals of the Welsh Open on Friday as Ronnie O’Sullivan takes on Mark Selby in Cardiff.
With no fewer than 53 ranking titles between them, O’Sullivan and Selby have enjoyed supreme success at the top level and are no strangers to facing each other at the business end of major tournaments.
The decorated duo have met in eight previous finals, including the 2008 Welsh Open, which Selby won in a deciding frame thriller.
Their latest encounter comes at the Last Eight stage at the Motorpoint Arena as Home Nation Series specialist Selby aims to extend O’Sullivan’s wait for a first ranking title of the season.
Selby has been prolific on UK soil this term, winning both the English Open and Scottish Open – where he edged out O’Sullivan 5-4 at this stage of the competition.
Now ranked world number four, Selby is eyeing a fifth ranking Semi-Final appearance of the season to remain in the running for an 18th career ranking title.
The three-time World Champion began his run with a 4-2 win over David Grace before thrashing Chen Zifan 4-1 and overcoming Hong Kong’s Andy Lee 4-2.
He then drew upon his vast experience to edge out emerging star Zhao Xintong in a last-frame decider in the Last 16 on Thursday.
O’Sullivan, meanwhile, has rarely been tested on his way to reaching the Quarter-Finals of this competition for the 13th time since making his debut back in 1993.
The world number six last tasted ranking success in the Tour Championship last March but did claim the Shanghai Masters title at the beginning of the season.
Runner-up to Judd Trump in the Northern Ireland Open, ‘The Rocket’ remains in hot pursuit of a record-breaking 37th career ranking title to overtake Stephen Hendry, and to do it here would see him claim a record-equalling fifth Welsh Open crown.
O’Sullivan, who requires a strong run here to bolster his hopes of Players Championship and Tour Championship qualification, has so far seen off Zhang Jiankang, Stuart Carrington, Anthony Hamilton and Soheil Vahedi for the loss of just five frames.
The 44-year-old has won 14 of his 25 previous meetings with ‘The Jester’ since 2002, including a 5-1 rout in the Quarter-Finals of the 2016 Welsh Open.
Their latest show-down gets underway from 12pm GMT and will be contested over the best of nine frames.
Either defending champion Neil Robertson or three-time ranking event winner Kyren Wilson will await the winner in Saturday’s Semi-Finals.