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Brecel Reaches Shanghai Showpiece

World Champion Luca Brecel is through to the final of the Shanghai Masters after defeating 23-time ranking event winner Neil Robertson 10-7 in their last four clash.

Victory for Brecel sets up a mouth watering showdown with world number one Ronnie O’Sullivan in tomorrow’s title match. The clash will be contested over the best of 21 frames, with the winner taking home the £210,000 top prize. The last time the pair met came at last season’s World Championship, when Brecel prevailed 13-10 and went on to pick up a sensational maiden Crucible crown.

Belgian Brecel spurned the opportunity to usurp O’Sullivan at the top of the world rankings at the recent European Masters. He needed to make the semis to go to world number one, but was beaten 5-4 by eventual tournament winner Barry Hawkins in the last 16. There will be no movement in the rankings after tomorrow’s final, with the Shanghai Masters being an invitational event.

Today’s win is Brecel’s first ever victory over Robertson, who won their first three meetings. The Australian will have to wait in his quest for a first individual title since the 2022 Tour Championship. His only tournament victory last season came at the World Mixed Doubles.

The afternoon session saw Brecel emerge with a commanding 6-3 lead, but Robertson dug deep to remain in contention when play got underway this evening. The 2010 World Champion took the opening frame on the black to reduce his arrears, but a break of 84 in the 11th saw Brecel regain his three frame lead at 7-4.

Robertson continued to scrap his way back into contention and then took the next two frames to head into the mid-session one behind at 7-6. When play resumed Brecel moved two ahead with a break of 123, before the steely Robertson again responded with 109 to make it 8-7.

From there Brecel made his move to get over the line, taking two tight frames consecutively to emerge with a 10-7 victory and clinch his place in a first Shanghai Masters final.

“This was a tough game. We struggled a bit, but I’m happy to be in the final. Playing Ronnie is going to be hard, he hasn’t lost here for seven years so it will be a big challenge,” said four-time ranking event winner Brecel.

“I think I am much more attacking than Ronnie, he is a bit more tactical than me. I think I’m more attacking than anyone. Ronnie’s shot selection is a bit different from mine and he refuses more than me. In the balls he is the best, so if I miss my chances he will win easily. If I play well then I have a chance to win.

“I always want to win. It doesn’t matter who I play. I think my goal was to get to the semis at least. Now I’m into the final I look at it differently. It is about playing well and entertaining more than winning. That has always been my mindset, even when I played Selby in the world final. I tried to entertain, play quick and play well. I will try the same tomorrow.”