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Masters 2020: Ali Carter will face Stuart Bingham in final

Masters 2020: Ali Carter will face Stuart Bingham in final

Ali Carter made the most of his fortunate entrance into the Masters by reaching Sunday's final where he will face fellow Englishman Stuart Bingham.

Carter only secured his spot in the invitational tournament at Alexandra Palace after seven-time winner Ronnie O'Sullivan decided not to take part.

He defeated 2015 winner Shaun Murphy 6-3, while Bingham emerged victorious 6-2 against debutant David Gilbert.

The showpiece guarantees a new name on the trophy.

The winner will claim a record 250,000 in prize money.

The World Snooker Tour have jazzed up this event to give it a more prestigious feel with corporate hospitality boxes, exclusive sofa seating and players making their way to the table via the top of the arena with loud entrance music.

The 2,000-strong crowd lapped up the occasion with a deafening ovation for both players, who waved their arms up and down for them to increase the noise even further.

World number 15 Bingham was a shock winner of the sport's biggest prize at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre five years ago and having seen defending champion Judd Trump, as well as former winners Mark Selby, Ding Junhui and Neil Robertson all make early exits, he now has a chance to add a second Triple Crown event triumph.

"I was a bit disappointed in my own play, Dave gave me chances in the first three frames and I just took them," Bingham told BBC Sport.

"I'm just enjoying the moment out there and I'm feeling pretty relaxed.

"I got a bit of momentum going I'm just enjoying the moment out there and I'm feeling pretty relaxed."

Gilbert, who reached the last four of the World Championship last season, made a very nervy start with proved costly, missing numerous straightforward pots allowing Bingham to make breaks of 94 and 71 to open up a 3-0.

Although Gilbert knocked in a superb 131 clearance, six-time ranking event winner Bingham pulled away once more - including a 75 break - to go 5-2 ahead, wrapping a comprehensive victory with a knock of 63.

"It might have looked like I was nervous as I butchered a few chances in the first few frames, but I felt fantastic," said Gilbert.

"What an atmosphere - I love it, even when I was playing poorly."

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The prestigious Masters sees the top 16 players competing but world number three O'Sullivan said his place should go to someone who will "give 100".

Ironically, that man turned out to be world number 17 Carter, who O'Sullivan defeated in the 2008 and 2012 World Championship finals, and someone he who does not see eye-to-eye with.

The pair clashed at the 2018 World Championship when O'Sullivan barged into his opponent during a second-round match, but Carter has benefitted from his withdrawal by collecting at least 100,000 in prize money and having the chance to become the first player outside the top 16 to win the tournament.

Asked how sweet it would be to win the title having replaced O'Sullivan, Carter replied: "It would be pretty sweet. I have lost twice in the final at Sheffield to Ronnie so maybe the writing is on the wall.

"I have done a couple of interviews in the Eurosport studio where O'Sullivan is working as a pundit and I said, 'Thanks Ron', to him."

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Should he go all the way, Carter would write another chapter in a remarkable story in which he recovered from testicular cancer in 2013, lung cancer two years later and also being diagnosed with Crohn's disease.

"I now think it's mine to lose rather than just being happy to be here, that's my competitive edge," said Carter.

"It's been a tough few years but I'm still here and still fighting.

"I've been to hell and back and it's special to be in the final but the job is not done yet."

Carter, nicknamed The Captain for his interest in flying and holding a pilot's licence, took a 32-minute opening frame and made a fluent 91 on his way to a 3-1 lead at the mid-session interval.

Although Murphy made two centuries, Carter punished him for breaking down on 56 by counter-attacking with a 70 clearance to go 4-2 in front.

Carter missed a crucial brown off the spot to allow Murphy to snatch the next, but he responded by going one from victory, helped by an outrageous fluked red, sealing victory with a coolly composed 97 break.

"The way he finished that match off was quite special, it's not easy out there," said Murphy.

"It was very classily done and I wish him the best in the final."

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