Gerard Greene has appeared in only one major semi-final prior to today and he was beaten by Marco Fu, he man he faces this afternoon in the last four of the Wyldecrest Parks Players Championship finals at Preston Guild Hall.
Greene scrapped through 4-2 against Mark Allen on Friday while Fu was superb in beating John Higgins 4-1. It sets up a rematch of their 2007 Grand Prix semi-final, which Fu won 6-5 in Aberdeen.
For Greene, this has been a profitable week already. He is guaranteed £20,000 for reaching the semi-finals and has also secured his top 64 place in the world rankings for next season. So although there is the usual big match pressure, external factors for once do not increase the tension he is already under.
Fu, meanwhile, is favourite and has cued so well this week that it would be no surprise if he takes home the trophy tonight. The Hong Kong cueman has long suffered from inconsistency but has enjoyed a great year which began in February 2013 when he reached the German Masters final. He has since won the Australian Goldfields Open, finished runner-up in the International Championship and was a semi-finalist at the recent Haikou World Open. His tight positional play and accurate potting, coupled with a tight safety game, make him very difficult to beat.
Judd Trump underlined his return to his best form by winning a high quality encounter yesterday with Joe Perry, who made two centuries but still lost 4-2.
Trump was superb, raising his own game when the pressure came on, which is the mark of any great player.
He now faces Barry Hawkins, who struggled early on before hitting his stride in fine style last night against Yu Delu, who failed to reproduce anything like the game he had found to beat Ronnie O’Sullivan on Thursday.
Hawkins ran Trump all the way in their last significant meeting, in the first round of the 2013 Masters. He will have to produce something special if Trump continues to produce his own brand of confident snooker.
Tonight, someone will walk away with the £100,000 for winning the final, the culmination of months and months of snooker.
All those hundreds and hundreds of frames in venues across the UK, Europe and China have been building up to this last day, which for whoever wins will have been well worth all the effort.
Photographs by Monique Limbos.