Ding Junhui will face Mark Selby over the next two days for the £330.000 top prize and more importantly the title of 2016 Betfred World Champion.
This will be Ding's first appearance in a world final after many years of struggle at the Crucible and perhaps the way he held off the determined comeback of Alan McManus,never losing his focus in what was a superb match,that has been the main difference this year.
This was really a cracking match from the very beginning with Ding at his free flowing,break building best,rolling in four centuries in the first session to lead 6-2
When that lead became 9-3 in the second session ,it looked as Ding may be heading for a second session to spare victory in a row,but McManus has in many ways been the story of these championships & he continued to roll back the years,claiming the next four to finish the session just two behind at 9-7.
Into the third session and McManus closed the gap to one at 9-8,but Ding regained his grip to take the next three to lead 12-8.Mcanus wasn't quite ready for the fairytale to end though as he rallied again to close to 12-10.
Ding,who must have been wondering what he had to do to shake off this veteran Scot,won the next to lead 13-10 and then in what was probably the pivotal moment of the match,he clinched the last of the session on the black to lead 14-10.
This proved a bridge to far for McManus today and it was Ding,who,collecting a record seventh century of the match along the way, sealed the win 17-11.
The other semi final between Mark Selby & Marco Fu always had the look on paper that it may be a more methodical affair and so it proved in a match that can prob be best described as "one for the purists"
This one was tight the whole way through with Selby,holding the advantage after the first session at 5-3,only for Fu to win the second session by the same score to level it up at 8-8.
Neither player was playing at the top of their game here as the score moved on t 10-10 at he interval,then 11-11 and eventually 12-12 as Selby took a 76 minute final frame of the morning to leave it all square.
Into the final session and what was effectively now a best of nine.To be fair to both players the standard improved slightly,but what didn't change was the fact that they could still not be separated. as the score went 13-13,14-14 & 15-15.
Now though that little bit of experience that Selby has of winning here just began to show and he edged ahead again at 16-15 7 in another frame that lasted over an hour Selby eventually got over the line to win 17-15
So what can we expect in the final,Well undoubtedly the favourite based on a evidence over the past fortnight is Ding.He has looked back to his very best in among the balls,as evidenced by his phenomenal break building stats,but more than this,as I said above,his focus has been exceptional.It can't be a coincidence that he has had the services of Terry Griffiths in his corner.
As for Selby,well he hasn't been playing anywhere near his best,but how often has he won tournaments where he has seemed to have no form at all.What he does have of course is an amazing will to win and a never say die attitude.Also having won the title here two years ago he knows what it takes to lift this title.
This final will be intriguing to watch but I just think that maybe Ding's time has come and wouldn't it be well deserved