The Masters final four involves three former champions and a superstar long tipped to land this title. Paul Krishnamurty previews both semis...
"O'Sullivan leads Ding Junhui 10-2 over the course of their careers and nearly all came at times when the disparity between their form was narrower.
Back Ronnie O'Sullivan to win the 2.5 Frame Handicap @ 1.84
The Masters final that snooker fans would probably like to see remains on course. Ronnie O'Sullivan and Judd Trump met recently in a superb Northern Ireland Open final and are both odds-on to win their semis and renew rivalry tomorrow.
Ronnie set to dominate Ding once again
First, O'Sullivan is expected to reach his 13th final - his fourth in six years - with the minimum of fuss. He leads Ding Junhui 10-2 over the course of their careers and nearly all came at times when the disparity between their form was narrower.
Full credit to Ding for battling hard to reach this far. Shrugging off the hammer blow of losing a frame to three misses, to reverse a 4-5 deficit against Luca Brecel, was impressive. As at the UK Championship, he isn't at his best but seems grittier than ever.
However this test is of an entirely different order. Brecel offered several chances in most frames - a luxury at this level, which almost certainly won't be available today.
Ronnie doesn't look like being challenged by anyone playing anything less than elite snooker. Unless Ding produces that - of which he is capable but shows little sign of doing so - he'll likely be blown away. Winning the four frames required to land the 2.5 Frame Handicap looks a tall order.
Trump and Robbo could go to the wire
The second semi looks much tighter. Trump leads Neil Robertson 10-8 in previous encounters but at 95-90, they are only separated by five frames. Both look very plausible champions on this week's evidence.
To be completely honest, Trump is a difficult player to assess right now. Opposing him has consistently paid off for at least a couple of years and to some extent over the longer term - such is his popularity in the market compared to his reliability.
In recent months though, he's looked likelier than ever to start truly fulfilling his extreme potential and taking him on is proving costly. He proved me wrong in the last two rounds - with some devastating snooker against Kyren Wilson and capitalising on a dismal Selby performance yesterday.
The Aussie, nevertheless, represents a significant obstacle if Trump is to reach his first Masters final. He came from 1-3 and 0-2 behind to win easily in the last two rounds and is close to top form, if not quite producing Trump's level.
Robertson reached the Masters final on three of his last six attempts so evidently knows how to win major semis. I don't think he'll be easily brushed aside and have felt for a few months that he was on the verge of returning to major contention. With greater respect than ever to Trump, he's worth taking on at [2.4].
2019 Masters P/L:
Back Ronnie O'Sullivan to win the 2.5 Frame Handicap 6u @ [1.84]
Back Neil Robertson 3u @ [2.4]