Following a superb comeback that saw Ronnie O'Sullivan win 11 of the last 14 frames against Mark Williams, the Rocket is merely a 2.186/5 chance to win a sixth world title. The next hurdle, however, can only be described as formidable.
Re-run of 2014 final bodes well for Selby
Ronnie faces Mark Selby for the first time at the Crucible since the 2014 final. Given what happened on that occasion, it was perhaps not surprising to hear O'Sullivan so dismissive of his own chances in last night's post-match interview, declaring his old rival the best long-format player around, with an even better mind than John Higgins.
O'Sullivan had dominated that 2014 renewal and even the first day of the final, leading 10-5 at one stage. Selby then produced a masterclass in safety, almost completely freezing him out. Note too he also won their only previous Crucible encounter in the 2010 quarter-final.
Yesterday's mightily impressive destruction of Neil Robertson invoked memories of those performances from Selby's peak era. It makes this semi hard to evaluate because going in and more generally, Selby hadn't been producing anything like that standard.
Not only was he not producing the results of his peak but his infamous safety skills had often seemed a thing of the past. In fact, it seems the three-time champion was merely warming up for the second week of this marathon event.
Selby still king over long distances
On the evidence of their respective performances over best of 25, Selby is much preferred at 2.68/5 over best of 33. Nobody is better over a long distance. I think he'll wear Ronnie down again. Whilst brilliant at stages against Williams, he missed a lot of easy balls, suggesting a struggle to focus.
This longer format doesn't ideally suit O'Sullivan and, when winning those five titles, he generally breezed past inferior opponents. That cannot be said of Selby. Not on this particular stage anyway.
Back Mark Selby to beat Ronnie O'Sullivan 4u @ 2.68/5
Either Kyren Wilson or Anthony McGill will meet the winner in the final. Wilson righly starts strong favourite for this earlier match, after ensuring the Crucible Curse was maintained by beating defending champion Judd Trump.
McGill dominates head-to-head record
If you believe head-to-head records are an invaluable guide (they are), then that should warn against backing the favourite at heavily odds-on. McGill leads 4-1 and that includes a ranking final. Most matches, it must be said, were a long time ago. Wilson is a much more accomplished player now.
Indeed Kyren couldn't have been more impressive so far and I couldn't be happier with the bet advised earlier at 24.023/1. Whilst McGill deserves great credit for his nerve, stamina and resilience in getting this far, he's only faced one seed and Jack Lisowski was a much lesser scalp than Wilson.
I'm going for a correct-score combo covering a predictable range - 17-11 through to 17-14. Combined, it pays around 15/8.
Back Kyren Wilson to beat Anthony McGill 17-11 1u @ 10/1
Back Kyren Wilson to beat Anthony McGill 17-12 1u @ 10/1
Back Kyren Wilson to beat Anthony McGill 17-13 1u @ 11/1
Back Kyren Wilson to beat Anthony McGill 17-14 1u @ 12/1
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