Former champions Mark Selby and Shaun Murphy bid to reclaim the World Snooker Championship crown when they face off in the final at The Crucible.
The two stalwarts of the modern game will collide in the sport’s ultimate show-down for the right to lift the prestigious trophy and scoop the £500,000 top prize.
Selby is eyeing a fourth world title triumph since 2014 in what will be his fifth appearance in the final.
Back-to-back winner in 2016 and 2017, the Leicester ace has been back to his vintage best over the past fortnight, coasting into the Semi-Finals for the loss of just 11 frames before battling back from behind to deny Stuart Bingham in an epic contest.
His granite all-round game and unflappable temperament are perfectly suited to this marathon event, and ominously for Murphy, Selby boasts a clinical recent record in ranking finals.
Prior to this year’s Shoot-Out, Selby had won eleven consecutive ranking finals dating back to 2016 and has won two of his previous three against Murphy.
The world number four began his charge to the final with a 10-1 demolition of Kurt Maflin before easing past Mark Allen 13-7 and thrashing three-time champion Mark Williams 13-3 with a session to spare in the Quarter-Finals.
He then came from 13-11 down to defeat 2015 champion Bingham 17-15 and took his tally of centuries for the tournament into double figures.
Selby had been accused of ‘slow play’ by Bingham at various stages of their marathon Semi-Final, though his average shot time across the season over 100 matches remains under 25 seconds.
Murphy, meanwhile, has banished an otherwise below-par season by his standards by returning to his brilliant best in the most important event of all.
The world number seven had not made it beyond the Quarter-Finals of a ranking event since the season-opening European Masters and had not been beyond the Second Round stage at The Crucible since finishing runner-up six years ago.
He is now on the cusp of setting a new record for the longest amount of time between World Championship titles – 16 years.
Murphy claimed the sport’s ultimate prize as a fresh-faced qualifier back in 2005 and has featured in a further two finals, losing out to John Higgins in 2009 and Stuart Bingham in 2015.
The Triple Crown winner last tasted success in a ranking event at the 2020 Welsh Open but has lost in six of his last eight finals.
Murphy has made eight centuries on his way to the final and has been lethal in the long potting department, as well as his pinpoint safety.
The 38-year-old dispatched veteran Mark Davis 10-7 in Round One before brushing aside reigning Masters Champion Yan Bingtao 13-7.
He then held off a gallant late fightback from world number one Judd Trump in the Quarter-Finals to close out a thrilling 13-11 victory, before producing a remarkable comeback from 10-4 down to defeat Kyren Wilson 17-12 in the Semi-Finals.
Murphy and Selby have met 23 times in previous competition, with Selby edging 14 wins, including four of their last five.
Their only previous encounter at The Crucible came back in 2007, when Selby edged a nail-biting Semi-Final 17-16.
Their latest show-down gets underway from 1pm on Sunday, resuming at 7pm that evening and 1pm on Monday, before being played to a finish over the best of 35 from 7pm that evening.
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