The final of the International Championship will be an all Asian affair as Ding Junhui battles it out with Marco Fu over the best of 19 frames to see who will be crowned the 2013 champion.
Ding made it three ranking event finals in a row with a fine 9-7 win over Greame Dott in what was a high quality match.There wasn't much in this one early on as they went to the interval at 2-2 before Ding managed to edge the next mini session to move ahead 5-3 at the end of the session.
That lead became 7-3 as Ding threatened to pull right away but Dott has always been a fighter and started to find some form,knocking in three consecutive breaks of 70 plus to close within one again at 7-6.In the past Ding might have crumbled at this stage,but he is a very different character these days and produced a lovely 121 break to move to within one of victory at 8-6.
Dott wasn't finished though and won the next to make it 8-7 before looking set to force the decider when he built a big lead in the next only for Ding to produce as wonderful a 63 clearance as you will ever see under pressure to win the frame on the black and secure the win.
This of course not only puts Ding into his third consecutive ranking final but it also puts him on the verge of winning his third ranking title in a row.Just what an achievement that would be can be measured by the fact that it is 23 years since someone last did this and that someone was Stephen Hendry at the height of his powers.
The man who stands in Dings way of course is Maco Fu after he came through a real battle with Joe Perry that went all the way to the decider.The standard in this was perhaps not of the high level we had in todays semi final but what it lacked in quality it certainly made up for in drama.
It was Perry here had the early advantage in this one,leading 5-3 after the opening session but Fu started the brighter in the evening and he quickly reeled off three in a row to lead 6-5.Perry.Perry struck back in the next to level at 6-6 and from here on it turned into a bit of an old fashioned slog.as the next four were shared to make it 8-8 and force a decider,After all that had gone before,this was never going to be a clean kill and so it proved as both players had their chances before Fu finally came out on top of a battle on the colours.
So a fascinating final we have in store then,with Ding a strong favourite but in Fu someone who is capable of beating anyone when on song.After last years epic between Trump & Robertson we could well be in store for something the same again.