Ronnie O’Sullivan and Ding Junhui renew their competitive rivalry on Saturday for the right to play Judd Trump in the World Grand Prix final.
The two good friends go head to head for the third time in the space of seven weeks at the Morningside Arena in Leicester.
Having contested the UK Championship final before Christmas, which O’Sullivan won 10-7 for his eighth title, the pair also locked horns at the Masters last week with the Rocket once again prevailing 6-3.
Although, Ding did leave the bigger mark on the latter contest by compiling his second maximum break at the event – and the first in nine years.
O’Sullivan and Ding also have history in this event. Indeed, they faced off in the 2018 final with the Rocket running out a commanding 10-3 winner for the first of his two titles.
Despite consistently claiming to not be enjoying competing, the world number one has already beaten two Chinese players this week in Pang Junxu and Zhou Yuelong, before sweeping Gary Wilson aside 5-1 in the quarter-finals.
Ding has also got stronger as the week has progressed. After edging out Ricky Walden 4-3 in the opening round, the Dragon saw off Noppon Saengkham 4-1 before putting International Championship winner Zhang Anda to the sword 5-2.
The Chinese ace will now hope it is third time lucky in a semi-final against O’Sullivan, who has prevailed in both their previous such encounters at the 2014 Champion of Champions and 2019 Masters.
It promises to be another fascinating encounter between the two friendly foes, with a showdown against three-time champion Trump awaiting the winner in Sunday’s showpiece.
Play gets under way at 7pm GMT on Saturday and will be contested over the best of 11 frames at the Morningside Arena in Leicester.
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