European Masters Final: Neil Robertson vs Zhou Yuelong

It marks the first time since the 2017 Scottish Open final that two players from outside the United Kingdom will battle in a ranking event title decider.

On that occasion, Robertson edged Cao Yupeng in a nail-biter and it’s another Chinese competitor who the 37 year-old will face again.

Robertson and Zhou’s credentials in the game couldn’t be much more different, with the latter bidding to claim a maiden crown at this level.

For the Melbourne man, success would represent a 13th calendar year out of the last 15 in which he’d capture a ranking event.

Indeed, such has been Robertson’s overall consistency as a protagonist in the higher echelons of the game that there hasn’t been a single year since 2006 that he hasn’t won a trophy of some description.

The former world champion will obviously begin the European Masters final as the favourite to prolong that run.

Contrasting semi-finals resulted in Robertson easily dismantling the challenge of recent Masters runner-up Ali Carter with a 6-1 scoreline.

Aided by an afternoon start, the former world number one would have subsequently been delighted to then seen his next opponent embroiled in an intense last four duel that only reached its climax after 1am local time.

In a topsy-turvy affair, Zhou edged out Gary Wilson in a deciding frame thriller to keep alive his chances of pocketing the £80,000 top prize.

In a tournament that saw the majority of the bigger names crash out early on, Zhou’s progress has been notably impressive considering the names he’s had to overcome.

Mark Williams and Barry Hawkins were two of the other challenges that the 22 year-old had to negotiate en route to this stage.

Zhou would have watched earlier this season when his former World Cup winning partner Yan Bingtao clinched his first glory in a ranking event in Riga and thought to himself that he’d like a piece of that action.

The former IBSF world amateur champion has long been heralded as a potential star and a triumph this weekend could lead to greater things.

Whether or not he’ll be able to quell Robertson’s form, particularly after an energy-sapping semi-final clash, remains in doubt.

Robertson is so good in these situations and rarely balks when silverware is within his grasp.

The duo has crossed paths just once before, with the more experienced cueman emerging with a routine 6-1 victory in Beijing.

Zhou will be hoping for a quick start in order to avoid another scenario in which Robertson runs away with it.

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