Had the draw worked out differently, Shaun Murphy v Ronnie O’Sullivan could have been the Betfred.com World Championship final but these two former champions are in fact meeting in the second round.
It is a tantalising clash of personalities. Both players are outspoken and attract almost as much comment for their opinions as their performances.
Each has played snooker regularly since boyhood and gone on to triumph at the Crucible.
While Murphy’s love of snooker has not wavered, O’Sullivan has of course struggled to retain his affection for the game amid the whirl of real life events.
But he appears to be in much better shape after consulting Dr Steve Peters, a psychiatrist, ahead of the tournament.
The key to the match could be the extent to which Murphy can put O’Sullivan under pressure. This will be the real test of his game as Dominic Dale failed to exert much in the first round.
Ali Carter couldn’t quite put Graeme Dott away yesterday, losing three successive black ball frames to trail 5-3 before producing a much better second session performance to lead 8-6.
True to form, though, battler Dott dug in to make it 8-8 and set up a fascinating final session this afternoon.
Judd Trump needs just two more frames to see off Martin Gould, who went for a risky double on the re-spotted black in their 13th frame.
In missing it and leaving it in the jaws, the match turned away from him and Trump eased away to 11-5.
Judd is clearly loving every minute of his Crucible experience. And why not? He does not have the baggage of many other players, or the mental scars accumulated over the years at Sheffield.
He is only 21 and so if he doesn’t win it this year there will be plenty more opportunities in the future. This makes him very dangerous and a live outsider for the title.
Mark Allen didn’t seem quite right against Barry Hawkins, who played solidly in claiming a 5-3 first session lead.
When Mark Selby played Stephen Hendry at the same stage last year the first session was close before Selby pulled away.
Logic dictates something similar will happen this year, although logic and snooker don’t always go together.