After a tournament with plenty of surprises and upsets,the UK Championship snooker final at the Barbican Centre in York today will seetwo former winners pit their wits against each other, in what promises to be amouth watering conclusion. Ronnie O’Sullivan is a four-time winner of the event(but it is his first UK final in seven years), while his opponent on the greenbaize, Judd Trump, was the victor in 2011.

Both players have shown glimpses of their very best overthe early rounds and the “Rocket” has even fired in a wonderful maximumclearance of 147 in his 6-0 demolition of Matthew Selt in the last-16 (his 13thbreak of 147 in a glittering career), to be in prime position for the top breakprize and an overall windfall of £44,000.

Despite still having to manage abroken ankle around the table (which he insists is getting easier as the roundsprogress) and to control his own emotions, for which he is openly indebted tothe assistance of psychiatrist Steve Peters, his main problem yesterday in thesemi-finals was with the form of Stuart Bingham. Bingham had progressed relativelyquietly through to the last four but seemed destined to thwart Ronnie’s chargeto the title, as he established a 4-1 lead in the best of eleven frame match.That seemed to spur the five-time World Champion on to a higher level as he wonthe next three frames with breaks over 50 in each one to level the game.Bingham responded again to nudge back in front at 5-4 and stand on the verge ofvictory with a half-century break of his own.

He was unable to withstand the brillianceof O’Sullivan though, as a superb century break and then a clincher of 94 inthe deciding frame saw him over the line to face Trump. Ronnie paid tribute tohis tough opponent after the match and admitted that he was rather lucky tocome out on top, as it seems that Bingham may have let his thoughts drift tothe possibility of making the biggest final of his career rather too early,letting Ronnie off the hook in so doing.

Trump also had to battle in his semi-final before progressingthrough to the final, as he found the in-form Stephen Maguire in no mood togive him an easy match. The final score of 6-4 did not adequately reflect thefine margins between the two players in what became a nervy encounter as thematch progressed. Trump set the early pace to establish a two frame lead with breaksof 57 and 63.

Maguire looked like taking both the third and fourth but falteredat the decisive moment and lost both to fall further behind at 4-0. The mini-breakallowed Maguire to gather his thoughts and he duly clinched the next frame toget on the board, but could not sustain the comeback and went within one frameof elimination in the sixth frame as Trump imperiously made a century break. Staringinto the abyss at 5-1, Maguire dug deep to take the next three frames and givehimself renewed hope. He was also well in contention in the tenth frame beforecommitting a foul on the last red that proved crucial, as Judd clinically clearedup.

For Trump, the finalprovides him with an early opportunity to avenge his defeat to O’Sullivan onlylast month in the Champion of Champions tournament, a final that witnessed hisrival in tremendous form in making four century breaks. Trump made twocenturies of his own in that final, but the loss may well play on Trump’s mind(as it has done for many over the years who have played against him), as heknows that any chance could spell the end of the frame, such has been Ronnie’sprowess when in among the balls. He will also remember losing to his old foe inthe 2013 World Championship final. Trump will be looking to take an earlyadvantage in the match, as the other factor O’Sullivan is renowned for is his ‘frontrunning’ ability in events such as this. It promises to be a tough task forTrump, but one he is well capable of achieving despite the “Rocket” being thelikely favourite to claim victory, as their head to head shows a narrow leadfor Ronnie at 7-6.