Ronnie O'Sullivan will play Judd Trump in the UK Championship final after producing a stirring comeback to defeat Stuart Bingham 6-5 on Saturday afternoon at the York Barbican.
Trump, a champion in 2011, fought off both Stephen Maguire and nerves to secure a tense 6-4 victory in the evening session.
Bingham's superb break building threatened to derail a struggling O'Sullivan initially, as he compiled breaks of 66 and 73 to register a 3-1 lead at the interval. He then stretched his advantage to 4-1 in frame five, courtesy of a magnificent 137.
Revivial required after poor start
However, with his opponent reeling, Bingham offered O'Sullivan a lifeline as he began to capitulate in sight of the finishing line, the four-time champion scrapped away and runs of 62, 68 and 67 leveled the contest at 4-4.
If that was a boxing match, they would have stopped it early. I was way off the pace.
The Shanghai Masters champion regrouped to win the ninth frame and move back in front, but O'Sullivan's 769th career century, followed by a break of 94 in the deciding frame, was enough to snatch the win for 'The Rocket'.
Speaking to BBC Sport, O'Sullivan said: "If that was a boxing match, they would have stopped it early. I was way off the pace.
"Inspiration has got me through though. Stuart had some chances but he allowed me back into it and I found some momentum," continued O'Sullivan.
TRUMP SURVIVES MAGUIRE FIGHTBACK
In contrast to O'Sullivan, Trump wasted no time in asserting control over his match against Maguire, constructing a 4-0 advantage after the opening quartet of frames.
Two half-century breaks took the 2011 winner 2-0 ahead, and fightbacks from 40 and 54-point deficits in frames three and four soon doubled his lead.
Maguire won a scrappy fifth, before Trump struck a beautiful century in the next to move within a frame of the final. His four-frame lead was soon halved though as Maguire dug in, and upon missing a golden opportunity to close out the match in frame nine, Trump became increasingly agitated.
His earlier form had earned him time though, and in the 10th frame he eventually claimed the win, thanks to a gutsy pot on the brown in a nervy exchange on the colours.
O'SULLIVAN HOLDS FINAL EDGE
Neither O'Sullivan or Trump have lost a UK final, although the former has accrued four as opposed to the latter's one.
'The Rocket' has won their last two meetings, the most recent a 10-7 triumph in the Champion of Champions final last month, but Trump has been victorious in six of their 13 professional meetings.
If O'Sullivan has been vulnerable so far in the tournament it has been during the early stages, yet the best of 19 final offers more chance for the match to ebb and flow, negating the importance of the opening phases.
However, if Trump can start strongly, and keep with the five-time world champion, he will get his chances. O'Sullivan's matches with both Anthony McGill and Bingham have shown that if they can make the most of their early chances, he can be put under pressure.
If Trump is to have a realistic chance, he must ensure he doesn't go off the boil like he did when approaching the finishing line against Maguire, or he will be punished.
The best two players of the tournament have made the final, and if their past matches are anything to go by, an entertaining final is in prospect. O'Sullivan holds the edge though, and if he produces his best, he could be about to record his fifth UK Championship title, and his first since 2007.
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