Masters Snooker 2019: Ronnie O'Sullivan to face Judd Trump in final
Ronnie O'Sullivan will play Judd Trump in his 13th Masters final after a thrilling 6-3 win over Ding Junhui.
O'Sullivan, who won a seventh UK Championship title last month, was gifted opportunities and raced 4-0 up.
Ding hit back with three in a row, including missing the final green while on a maximum 147 effort, but O'Sullivan proved too good.
Trump advanced into his maiden Masters final with a 6-4 victory over 2012 champion Neil Robertson.
World number five Trump opened with 86 and 73 to establish a 2-0 lead, but Australia's Robertson made a 127 clearance as he levelled at 2-2.
The match between two attacking left-handers turned into an error-strewn contest and despite another 127 from Robertson, it was Trump who held it together better making frame-winning contributions of 61, 60 and 68 to go through.
Trump has already played O'Sullivan in a final this season at the Northern Ireland Open, emerging victorious on that occasion and he has a better head-to-head record in finals, 5-3 up on his opponent.
"I would rather have played someone easier," joked Trump. "I have to go out and enjoy it. I see it as a challenge when other players might get scared of playing him. My record against him speaks for itself and I rise to the occasion.
"I have won a lot of tournaments when my parents have not been there so they will probably come up. It's about time I rewarded them with another win on the BBC.
"I am going to have to raise my game by 50% to get close to Ronnie on Sunday, the way he has been playing, but I am in with a fighting chance.
"I don't have anything to lose. After this performance, I don't think anyone expects me to get close. The way Ronnie has been playing, I hope I can take the game to him and go for my shots with confidence.
"He will have massive crowd support so I am going to have to deal with that as well."
'I don't buy into numbers'
O'Sullivan has won seven Masters titles, yet been beaten in five finals, the last of which came against Mark Selby in 2010.
He said: "I have done well to win two or three, let us not get greedy. I don't buy into numbers or achievements, I just enjoy what I have and I'm grateful for what I have.
"I understand that the western philosophy is about getting more and more is never enough but I don't adopt that. Greed can come out in many ways but the less greedy you are, the more satisfied you become.
"I was very nervous today, shaking in the first few frames and not handling that well. I managed to pot a few balls but did not feel serene as usual. You have to try and control it.
"To win tournaments you have to be quite aggressive and make things happen. You don't get many defensive players getting to finals these days and even the ones you think are defensive are actually attacking in their own ways."
O'Sullivan extends winning run
Saturday's meeting was a repeat of the 2007 final, in which a visibly distraught Ding struggled to hold back the tears and was consoled by O'Sullivan at the end after suffering a heavy 10-3 defeat.
The clash between two of snooker's biggest stars - crowd favourite O'Sullivan and China's Ding - produced a fine spectacle as 'The Rocket' threatened to run away with the match in the early stages.
But O'Sullivan managed to get over the line and this season's dominant player claimed his 29th win from 31 matches to reach his fifth final from the six tournaments he has entered.
The 43-year-old is now aiming to become the first player to win any Triple Crown event - the World Championship, UK Championship and Masters - eight times.
Ding had numerous chances early on but failed to convert them, allowing O'Sullivan to pick him off with breaks of 58, 75, 52 and 56.
After the mid-session interval, Ding responded with back-to-back centuries and agonisingly missed out on the 147th maximum in snooker history by potting 15 reds, 15 blacks and fluking the yellow, but was unable to convert a difficult green into the middle pocket.
Under the cosh, O'Sullivan countered in style, taking the two frames required, including a sublime 93 break to wrap up the match and the two embraced, with O'Sullivan warmly hugging and kissing Ding as they left the arena.
Ding said about just missing out on the 147: "It was not easy to play the green but I was lucky to get on it. I really wanted to make a 147 at the Masters.
"At the end he said he [O'Sullivan] loves me and it is great to play Ronnie because I can see how good my game is. He beat me on the safety play today."