O'Sullivan sets up Selby showdown
10:09pm Saturday 18th January 2014 in © Press Association 2014
Ronnie O'Sullivan will play defending champion Mark Selby in the final of the Masters at Alexandra Palace on Sunday.
O'Sullivan was not at his free-flowing best in his match against Stephen Maguire - but a century break in the final frame proved popular with the 38-year-old's fans as he finished with a flourish.
Maguire calmed early nerves with a testing early red which opened the door to a 98 clearance that gave him the first frame.
The 32-year-old had a chance to take the second frame but paid for poor position after potting a pink into the middle, and breaks of 39 and 36 enabled O'Sullivan to level the match.
Maguire fluked a red early in the third frame but 'The Rocket' took it with a break of 73 - and it was 3-1 at the mid-session interval courtesy of a knock of 40.
The lead was extended to 4-1 as O'Sullivan won a scrappy fifth frame, with Maguire paying for missing a black and pink off the spot.
A break of 59 moved the world number 24 to within a frame of victory - and he had success in his sights, only to miss a straightforward blue into the middle. Maguire cleared up with a 48 to reduce the deficit to 5-2.
However, O'Sullivan replicated the form he showed in his quarter-final drubbing of Ricky Walden in the eighth frame, closing out the contest with an impressive break of 129.
Earlier, Selby had booked his place in the final with a convincing 6-1 defeat of Shaun Murphy.
Selby made a strong start with breaks of 86 and 104 clinching the first two frames, and it soon became 3-0 after Murphy had missed a red along the top cushion.
A clearance of 62 made it 4-0 after Murphy had slipped up attempting a challenging pink - and when Selby edged a scrappy fifth frame the 30-year-old was on course for a satisfying whitewash.
Although Murphy stopped the rot, taking the sixth frame 59-15, there was to be no comeback as Selby closed the door in the next frame, which he took 76-24.