And surely it’s a Final that not many would have predicted! This is how the semi finals got us there:
World number 67 Cao Yupeng is through to his maiden ranking final after a shock 6-4 win over Judd Trump at the Dafabet Scottish Open in Glasgow.
The match was a reversal in fortunes for the pair, who have already met in a semi-final this season at the European Masters in Belgium. On that occasion the eight-time ranking event winner Trump proved to be too strong as he stormed to a 6-1 victory.
However, 27-year-old Cao has already enjoyed a magical moment this week in Glasgow , having fired in a 147 maximum break in his 4-0 last 128 win over Andrew Higginson.
That puts Cao in position for a potential bumper £92,000 payout. He is already in line to pocket £22,000 for the maximum break and will now face either John Higgins or Neil Robertson tomorrow for the Stephen Hendry Trophy and the £70,000 top prize.
Trump struggled to find his mark from long range in the opening stages today. That allowed Cao to step in and grasp the early initiative, making 51 and 88 to lead 3-1 at the interval.
Cao then had the opportunity to pull three clear in the fifth frame, but missed a tough last black. The Ace in the Pack stepped in and deposited a similarly tricky final ball before punching the air, as he clung on to his opponent at 3-2.
The tide appeared to have turned as Trump then levelled at 3-3 with a sublime run of 76. However, Cao instantly responded by winning the next two frames to move one from victory and he went on to get over the line a 6-4 winner with a break of 72.
“When I had that chance in the last frame I told myself, concentrate 100% and don’t miss,” said Cao. “I feel really happy to be in my first final. It was a lot of pressure out there today, but I managed to play alright so I’m pleased overall.
“I have spent a lot of time practising and particularly on my safety game. I think last season I only really put in an effort on my potting and as a result I gave my opponents a lot of opportunities.
“Either Neil Robertson or John Higgins will be really tough, because they are both top players. I need to make the most of my chances tomorrow and give everything to try and win.”
Afterwards Judd Trump said that he felt the pace of the game impacted upon his performance.
Trump said: “It is hard and draining. When you are sat there you try to get some momentum going. If you get among the balls you start rushing and end up missing.
“Recently I haven’t really been enjoying it. It is hard to enjoy the games you lose. But, I think it is important just to get over it as soon as possible and not dwell on the loss. It is easy to sit here and moan about how slow he was, but I had my chances and just didn’t take them.”
Neil Robertson stormed to a 6-3 win over John Higgins to reach the final of the Dafabet Scottish Open in Glasgow.
The Thunder from Down Under put on an electrifying display of break building power to build a crucial lead early on in the match. He’s now made 10 centuries this week, putting him one behind the tally of 11 clocked up last year by inaugural winner of the event Marco Fu.
Robertson goes into tomorrow’s final with China’s Cao Yupeng in the knowledge that regardless of the outcome, he will instantly return to the world’s top 16. He dropped to 20th in the rankings last week in York and as a result will miss next month’s Masters.
The showpiece clash will be the Australian’s first ranking final in over a year, the last being the 2016 Riga Masters where he lifted the title. However, he did win the invitational Hong Kong Masters earlier in this campaign.
Higgins will be disappointed not to cash in on a stunning 5-0 victory over Ronnie O’Sullivan yesterday evening to reach the last four. However, it’s another deep run on home turf for the Scot, following last year where he surged all the way to the final before losing out to Fu.
Robertson came charging out of the blocks this evening with breaks of 117, 65, 74 and 134 to go 4-0 ahead at the mid-session interval.
When the players returned the atmosphere in the arena began to build as the home crowd willed Higgins on to force his way back into the tie. The 42-year-old responded by winning three frames on the bounce to pull within one at 4-3.
However, from there the 12-time ranking event winner steadied himself and got over the line with breaks of 56 and 70.
“The way I started in the first four frames was probably the best I have ever played, in terms of who I was against and the occasion,” said the Triple Crown winner.”With the hard work I have put in during the last couple of months I think I have taken my game to a new level. It is just about doing it on a consistent basis in tournaments.
“I don’t think any player looks at my position in the rankings and says that is where I am at now. At the UK Championship it took a huge effort from Mark Joyce to beat me. The game is there and in the last two months it has been fantastic. My long potting has been really good and I think that is the most important thing. I needed to get back to being deadly and clearing when my hand is on the table.
“I thought a a few years ago that Cao Yupeng was going to be the next best Chinese player after Ding. He tried to tweak with a few technical things and fell off the radar. It is good to see him back playing well. He has had a dream week to make a 147 and get to his first final.”
Afterwards Higgins felt that he was outplayed and said he said that Robertson was now a big favourite to lift the title tomorrow.
“The better man won. It really felt like a 6-0 or a 6-1 there. He was dominant and the chances I got were more down to his misses. I got totally outplayed and have to hold my hands up,” said the 29-time ranking winner.”I didn’t get a sniff until 4-0. He was flying around the table with his long potting.”
“Cao has done great this week and it was brilliant for him to make the 147 earlier in the tournament, every credit to him. However, I think Neil will be too strong in the final.”
So that’s Neil Robertson provisionally back in the top 16, just one week after dropping out of it, and that week cost him the Masters… It’s a shame, but of course, cut-off points have to be set at some dates and there will allways be someone for whom it’s too late or too early.
Neil Robertson will be a massive favorite today, he’s got the pedigree, he’s been there and done it, and, of course, after all the issues himself and his family had to face over the last two years, it would be a great conclusion of the year. But Cao has impressed me, his safety game has been excellent and his temperament solid as well. He shouldn’t be taken lightly.