The 2014 Welsh Open final will be the most eagerly anticipated match of the season as the worlds two current best players,Ding Junhui & Ronnie O'Sullivan battle it out for the title over the best of 17 frames
Ding reached his fifth ranking final of the season courtesy of a hard fought 6-4 victory over Joe Perry.It was Perry who was first out of the traps in this one,taking the opening frame.Ding leveled things up in the next before a break of 114 saw him take a 2-1.The fourth frame could have gone either way,but it went to Ding to leave the Chinese 3-1 up at the interval.
On the resumption of play it was Perry who came out the better,winning the next two frames to level things up at 3-3,before Ding once again edged ahead at 4-3. Perry looked set to level it up again,but a 55 from Ding was enough to make it 5-3 and although Perry won the next Ding produced a wonderful break of 118 to seal the 6-4 victory.
So Ding has Stephen Hendry's record of five ranking titles in a season very much in his sights but standing in his way will be Ronnie O'Sullivan after the world champion again showed superb form to beat Barry Hawkins 6-4.
Hawkins knew coming out to play this one that a good start was essential and thats exactly what he got,winning the first frame of the evening with a 102.Indeed he looked set to take the second when he lead 58-0,but a superb clearance from Ronnie leveled things up at 1-1.The third also went the way of O'Sullivan courtesy of a stunning break of 114,before an unfortunate foul from Hawkins left Ronnie a free ball & he duly cleared up to make it 3-1.
That became 4-1 in the next with another century,this time a 124,and things were starting to look ominous for Hawkins.In the sixth Hawkins again was first in and lead 64-0,before O'Sullivan again countered to pinch it with a 65 clearance to move within one of victory at 5-1. Hawkins did manage to pull one back,before Ronnie sealed the 6-2 win with his third century of the evening
What a final we have in prospect then as these two men who have towered over the season get ready to slug it out.A win here would be Dings fifth ranking title of the season,but a victory over Ronnie in this form would surely for him be the highlight of them all.For O'Sullivan as well he would dearly love to prove his superiority over the rest of the world again with the Crucible very much starting to loom on the horizon again.
Regardless of the result,lets hope the Newport Centre gets the send off it deserves as the venue for the Welsh Open and that these two men serve up the classic we all so dearly would love to see