A wonderful week at the Shanghai Masters draws to a close on Sunday when two champions collide as the defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan meets the world champion Luca Brecel over the best of 21 frames for the title.
These two are heavyweights in the game now and the winner will take home a healthy first prize and boost their confidence ahead of a run of tournaments which are coming along in the weeks to come. The stage is set for a cracking final.
Ronnie O’Sullivan has won the last three Shanghai Masters titles and he will be looking to secure a fourth crown in succession in this final. I don’t think he has played anything close to his best snooker in this tournament but he hasn’t really needed to. The key for O’Sullivan is that he has got the job done at the business end of all three matches and pulled away from his opponents down the stretch. He would like a complete performance here but winning is more important.
We know that O’Sullivan will be all out to win this final. He loves winning these big invitation tournaments. They are the events that he lives for now and he is always visibly disappointed when he doesn’t win them, which might be a reason why he was able to find his best form late on against Ali Carter, John Higgins and Mark Selby in the earlier rounds. He feels a worthy favourite based on his intent to win these sort of events.
Ronnie O’Sullivan isn’t the only player with motivation here. Luca Brecel will be out to show that his World Championship win was no fluke and there is no better way to do it than to knock off the best player the game has seen in a final. Brecel took care of O’Sullivan on his way to his world title success so he knows he has it in him to come out on top against the great man and there is no doubt he is playing well enough to do that.
Brecel has seen off three genuinely acceptable opponents this week in Mark Williams, Robert Milkins and Neil Robertson and much like O’Sullivan he has got better the longer his matches have gone on. We’ve seen his flashy scoring at times but we’ve actually seen him play some sensible snooker too. You would think he’ll need all of his scoring power here though because he is unlikely to come out on top in a tactical final against O’Sullivan.
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Away from the Championship League and Shootout these two men have met on five previous occasions and while Ronnie O’Sullivan leads as you would expect, his advantage is only 3-2. He does have a larger lead on Luca Brecel in the frame count though where his lead is 30-21 which suggests that his wins have been much more emphatic than those of the Belgian. This will be the first time they have met in a final but it will be the third time they have played each other in China. They have shared the other two. Luca Brecel won their only other previous multi-session match when he took care of O’Sullivan in the World Championship in April.
Luca Brecel has a couple of wins over Ronnie O’Sullivan so I don’t think he’ll be scared to beat him but I’m not certain he’ll get the chance here. I say that because in the three wins O’Sullivan has had over Brecel he has won by 5-1, 5-1 and 6-1 margins and in the two Brecel wins, O’Sullivan has led 4-1 only to lose 5-4 and 10-6 before losing seven on the spin to end up losing 13-10. I sense if O’Sullivan goes clear in this match he won’t be for stopping.
O’Sullivan is obviously a bad matchup for Brecel. He can’t really outscore the seven-time world champion and he certainly can’t get the better of him in a tactical game so I’m happy to be on the Rocket to win this match. The other thing to factor into the equation he had Saturday off while Brecel was having to battle it out against Neil Robertson. There is a lot in favour of O’Sullivan going into this final and I think the scoreboard will at the end of it. I’ll back O’Sullivan to cover the handicap here.
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