The biggest snooker match of the season so far takes place on Sunday when Ronnie O’Sullivan and Barry Hawkins meet in the Shanghai Masters final with the champion pocketing a cool £200,000 as well as the trophy.
These two men are no strangers to big finals and indeed this isn’t the first time they have faced each other in one of them so we should see both at their best which should in turn make for a top game of snooker over the lesser seen best of 21 frames distance.
Although he hasn’t been at his absolute best this week, Ronnie O’Sullivan has made it into the final with the minimum of fuss and he will go off a heavy favourite to land another major crown. O’Sullivan has only dropped 11 frames on his way to this final in the three matches he has played so he has been comfortable.
Although he has been comfortable on the results front in his actual play there have been some flaws. We should have expected that in fairness as this is Ronnie’s first tournament since the World Championship and we know he is trialling new sighting techniques but it would be wrong to think that he is firing on all cylinders.
It has been more of a battle in terms of results and competitive matches for Barry Hawkins although he has had to come through against the world champion and the local hero in the last two rounds. Given that you would have expected him to have had to battle but having come through that might not have done him any harm.
One thing which might have done him no good is the titanic battle he went through in the semi-final but when he was 9-7 down he was probably mentally packing his bags only to put on the afterburners to come back and beat Ding 10-9. Hawkins has scored well in the tournament and if he is to have any chance in this final it is imperative he does that here too.
Head to Head
These two have met on 15 previous occasions including in some huge matches such as the 2013 World Championship final and the 2016 Masters Final. O’Sullivan won both of those and has a 13-2 career lead over Hawkins. Hawkins may well know that he won their first meeting too. O’Sullivan won their previous meeting, which was here last year, 5-0. In total O’Sullivan leads the frames 100-59 which highlights the size of Hawkins’ task.
I’m looking forward to what should be an excellent final here but in fairness to the layers they look to have the lines all about right and there isn’t really the wriggle room I would like on either side of the handicap so I’m going to leave the match alone from that point of view.
I think we are going to get a high scoring final here regardless of how many frames there are but realistically it is hard to think we will get less than 16-17 frames as a bare minimum. With that in mind even at a short price I think over 12.5 50+ breaks has to be considered a good thing here. Hawkins made eight 50s in his win over Ding in the semi-final and O’Sullivan made seven in his semi. That sort of ratio should see 12.5 covered here.
WON – Back Over 12.5 50+ breaks for a 5/10 stake at 1.67 with Betfair
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