Ronnie O’Sullivan takes on Ding Junhui in the final of the Welsh Open tomorrow at the Newport Centre in what promises to be an enthralling match.
These two are arguably the two most in-form players on tour at the moment and should be a real treat for snooker fans and punters alike.
I must concede, at the start of the tournament, I had my doubts over O’Sullivan’s chances in Newport after he was knocked out of the UK Championship at the Quarter-Finals back in December.
Then again, he tasted success at the Masters in January, albeit with the backing of a hugely supportive London crowd, but this week he’s produced some of the best snooker anyone’s likely to manage.
When he’s had his chances he’s been ruthless and up until his 6-2 win over Barry Hawkins in the semi-finals on Saturday night, had not dropped more than one frame in any of his previous matches in the tournament.
He went behind to a well-constructed century by Hawkins on Saturday night but in the following five frames, produced some incredible snooker as he rattled off the next five frames in quick time.
Invariably when he’s let in, he’s knocked in a frame-winning break almost immediately this week and poor old Hawkins barely ever got a look in.
This ruthlessness will stand him in good stead ahead of Sunday’s best-of-17 final against arguably the player of the season, Ding Junhui.
Ding for the Records
If there was a man you could choose on the circuit to have a chance of ending O’Sullivan’s terrific run, then there’s no doubt that it’d be Ding Junhui going by some of the superb performances he’s put on this season.
He’s already a four-times ranking event winner this campaign, having lifted the Shanghai Masters, Indian Open, International Championship and most recently the German Masters.
And another triumph would see him make a mark in the history books, matching Stephen Hendry’s five title in a season, a the Scot achieved in the 1990-91 season.
However Ding was very nearly defeated at the quarter-final stage as he trailed 4-2 to the promising talent Joel Walker but the 19-year-old was unable to hold his nerve and Ding fought back to win 5-4.
He was firmly in control against Joe Perry in the semi-finals on Saturday afternoon and openly said in his post-match press-conference that he’d rather play O’Sullivan in the final rather than Hawkins.
He got what he wanted and perhaps that shows a bit more about his character in that he wants to be winning titles playing against the game’s other elite three or four players as he will need to do on Sunday.
O’Sullivan v Ding Betting Odds
Ding’s not had the best of runs against O’Sullivan over the years, with his last ranking event victory dating way back to the 2006 Northern Ireland Trophy final, when he was just 21.
The Chinese player has improved vastly over those eight years although O’Sullivan still edged him out at the Champion of Champions event back in November, winning their Quarter-Final 6-5.
Whatever happens, I think it’ll be a close one and my BET OF THE DAY is on a 9-7 O’Sullivan win at 9/1 with Sportingbet.
The first eight frames will be played from 1pm, with the evening session kicking off at 7pm. You can catch the action live on British Eurosport, BBC Two Wales, the red button or online at bbc.co.uk/snooker.
Check out the latest Welsh Open final snooker odds with BritBets.
You can also claim free bets with Sportingbet.