The final of the 2014 Shanghai Masters will see Mark Allen face off against Stuart Bingham following a day of comebacks and high drama that certainly gave the crowd their money's worth.
What was to come seemed a million miles away in the first of the days semi finals when Mark Selby flew out of the blocks to take a convincing 3-1 lead over Mark Allen at the interval. That lead became 5-2 shortly after and it seemed only a matter of time until the World Champ sealed the frame he needed to reach another final,but Allen had other ideas.He took a close eighth to close to 5-3 and from here he produced his best snooker of the match,winning the next two with breaks 115 & 64 to level things up a 5-5.
Into that decider then and Selby seemed to have weathered the storm as set about constructing what looked likely to be a match winning break. This wasn't to be however,as a needless attempt to split the reds with his break on 63,left him out of position and a series of scoring visits,the last of which followed a missed pink from Selby to the centre,allowed Allen to clear the colours and claim the 6-5 win on the black.
This win will no doubt have satisfied Allen a great deal having seen been the victim of a similar comeback from Selby in the final of the Riga Open a couple of months back.This time it was the Irishman who out-Selbyed Selby to keep up,what in recent seasons,has been an impressive overseas record
Another payer with a fine record when on his travels is Stuart Bingham,but playing the defending champion Ding Junhui in front of his own crowd,he came into today as the firm underdog.
That seemed to be an accurate reflection of the match when Ding opened up a 4-2 lead,but then something extraordinary happened. Ding seemed to lose his concentration and Bingham started to score in the fashion that had seen him reach this stage of the tournament with the minimum of fuss,
Breaks of 63,59 & 97 were enough to see Bingham reel off four frames in a row and secure his place in the final with a 6-4 victory.
So there we have it, not the final any of us would have been expecting,but a fascinating one none the less. Going on form during the week, Bingham has certainly been the more consistent,but Allen produced his very best stuff in his win over Selby and will no doubt have been filled with confidence following that.
This is really too close to call but with a gun to my head I would slightly favour Allen.