So here we are,after 12 days of action and 126 matches played we are down to the last two men standing in the 2013 UK Championship and they just happen to be the current World no.1 & 2,Neil Robertson & Mark Selby.Who says the flat draw makes it all a lottery!
Both these men have of course very special reasons to want to lift this trophy on Sunday night.For Robertson it would mean joining the select club who have won the games three top prizes,having already added the World Championship & The Masters to his cv and for Selby it would see him joining an even more exclusive club of those who have successfully defended the UK title,this a feat only Steve Davis a Stephen Hendry have achieved in the past.
Before we get in to the final itself lets look briefly back at how they got through their semi finals..
First man to reach the final was Robertson,but only after he came through a real thriller with Stuart Bingham.
The afternoon session of this one gave no indication of what was to come as a series of scrappy frames that could have gone either way but it was the Aussie who lead at the end of it 5-3
Into the evening and Robertson seemed to be coasting to victory when he won the opening three frames to go 8-3. Bingham won the next to at least force the mid session interval but no alarm bells would have been ringing for Robertson just yet.That however would start to change in the next as with the scores close & Robertson in control of the safety battle on the colours,Bingham fluked the green out of a snooker and cleared to make it 8-5.This was the spark Bingham needed as he became a changed man,striding around the table confidently and making it 8-6,8-7 & then unbelievably 8-8.
Robertson's head at this stage must have been all over the place,so it is a measure of the man that he managed to pull together a telling contribution 59 when his chance arose and although this didn't see him fully over the line he managed to later pot the final red to seal the win 9-8.
Selby made it through to the final with a 9-5 win over Ricky Walden that will be remembered not for the quality of snooker both player produced,but for the a remarkable piece of history in frame seven.After what had been a pretty scrappy opening six frames that saw Selby hold a 4-2 lead he knocked in the opening red in the next,finished on the back and went on to complete the 100th 147 in professional snooker,the crowning moment of which was a fabulous final black to the middle pocket.The crowd rose to their feet to applaud what they had just seen as this moment of magic changed what had been a forgettable afternoon of snooker into one they'd never forget.To top it off Selby also added the last of the session to lead 6-2.
Coming out tonight then Walden knew he needed a good start but despite some good openings he just couldn't get going and Selby cruised into an 8-2 lead.Walden to his credit dug in to win the next three to make it 8-5 but Selby finished the job with a classy century to book his place in the final winning 9-5.
So what kind of final can we expect then.Well in this modern era of the game where we are told its all attack, we have two players in Robertson and Selby whose style of play would have fitted in to any era of the game.I really don't think either man this week has played at their peak,but in many ways the fact they have still both reached the final shows just how good they are.Certainly neither player will lose this final because they just gave up.
For that reason,I think we are in for a very close match that could very well require the full 19 frames to decide who lifts the trophy.As for the winner,well I just have a feeling it will be our defending champion Mark Selby writing his name in the history books,but I could be wrong!!