Today’s 888 Welsh Open final features two players who could easily have been beaten before now.
But for John Higgins missing a pink with the rest and Stephen Lee failing to pot a green after being disturbed by a mobile phone, Ding Junhui could have departed Newport earlier in the week.
And it seems like a long time since Sam Baird had blue and pink to beat Mark Selby 4-2 in the first round.
Ding played well against Shaun Murphy, who struggled to reproduce the form that had got him to the semi-finals.
It is Ding’s first full ranking final since the 2010 China Open. After a relatively unproductive 2011/12 campaign this is more like it from the Chinese no.1.
Selby’s win over Ronnie O’Sullivan last night was hard earned in a match low in quality though high in commitment.
Mark Williams summed it up best on Twitter when he said that, for whatever reason, Selby seems to get under O’Sullivan’s skin.
This was not the confident, flowing Ronnie we saw against Judd Trump. He was clearly edgy from the first frame onwards and never really found his best game.
However, he was disciplined throughout. He played the right way but just couldn’t get going.
According to reports in today's newspapers, O’Sullivan had placed an edge of pressure on himself before the match by making a few derogatory comments about Selby, to the effect that he didn’t want to play him because he is so slow, which Selby answered in kind with a few comments of his own.
But he didn’t lose because Selby slowed it down. O’Sullivan failed to pot a ball in the opening frame and barely improved. It was just one of those nights for him.
Selby certainly enjoyed the better running but also potted a greater percentage of pressure balls. Ultimately winning is the objective for any player.
The final seems likely to be close. Ding beat Selby in their last major meeting at the Crucible last season and his safety game was excellent in that match, as it will have to be today.
Selby started the season well but tailed off. Ding has done little of note. They have both come good this week and let’s hope they give us a final to remember.