Ronnie O'Sullivan, who has won all four of the World Championship finals he has contested, sped through to a fifth as he brushed aside the challenge of Judd Trump.
Armed with a 14-10 lead heading into the fourth session of their semi-final, the defending champion punished Trump's errors to move a frame away from victory, and a flicker of a recovery from the young pretender was extinguished as O'Sullivan went through a 17-11 winner.
After almost a year out of snooker, the feat of reaching another Crucible showpiece match ranks among O'Sullivan's finest achievements. He has already this week claimed this will be his last appearance at this arena. O'Sullivan said: "I'm quite surprised really to be talking about another World Championship final.
"It was tough because I don't think we played anywhere near our best."
Trump was 50-39 ahead in the opening frame yesterday but missed a red to a corner pocket. O'Sullivan rifled in a 41 break and pinched the next after winning a tactical battle and finishing off with a crowd-pleasing 33.
Trump made a 77 break to give himself the slightest hope, but the reprieve was brief as O'Sullivan creamed off breaks of 31 and 33 in the next frame to clinch a showdown with Barry Hawkins - who beat Ricky Walden 17-14 in the other semi - in the two-day final, beginning today.
For O'Sullivan it was eerily familiar playing Trump: "There was a lot of tension out there during the sessions. We practise in the same environment, we used to be managed by the same manager, so that creates a kind of derby-match feel. Everyone was really geared up for it because it was the newcomer against someone who's been around a long time and wears his heart on his sleeve."
"I might say some things that frustrate people at times but my fans they always get behind me because they know I try my hardest every time I go out there."
On Friday O'Sullivan was ticked off by the referee, Michaela Tabb, for what the Scot perceived as a rude gesture during the 23rd frame as the match became scrappy.
When he played a poor shot he motioned with his cue between his legs and Tabb stepped in to issue a brief reprimand. O'Sullivan has insisted Tabb misinterpreted what happened.
Trump felt his performance had lacked sparkle. "I feel disappointment really because I did have chances and in the first two sessions I really struggled," he said. "As soon as he got in front he was so difficult to peg back.
"My scoring wasn't good enough at this level and it was the worst I've played in this tournament. Over the tournament he has missed less easy balls than the rest of us."
Trump urged O'Sullivan to reconsider his plans to walk away from snooker again.
"Hopefully next year he plays in it again so I can beat him," he said. "I want to win the World Championship with him in it and I want to beat him on the way."
- More about: