Neil Robertson: Ashes and Michael Jordan Inspired Me Against Ronnie O’Sullivan

The 39-year-old ended the Rocket’s hopes of an eighth Masters title with a deserved 6-4 win
21:05, 13 Jan 2022

Australia’s Neil Robertson took inspiration from both the Ashes and sporting legend Michael Jordan to down Ronnie O’Sullivan at the Masters on Thursday.  

The 39-year-old ended the Rocket’s hopes of an eighth Masters title with a deserved 6-4 win at Alexandra Palace in front of a sell-out crowd of 2,000 partisan fans. World No4 Robertson, chasing a second win in this event 10 years after his first, knocked in breaks of 119, 56, 50, 130 and 54 to clinch his place in the semi-finals.  

And it was also some revenge for losing the World Grand Prix final to six-time world champion O’Sullivan, 46, last month before Christmas.  

Big cricket fan Robertson said: “Look, this is Ronnie’s home event and to play him here with 2,000 fans roaring him on is a big challenge. It’s not personal against me, but you must deal with it.  

“It felt like a final, it had that buzz about it. Playing him at Ally Pally is a bit like playing Barcelona at the Nou Camp, or Stephen Hendry at the Crucible in snooker.  

“But I always relish that situation. And I always remember Michael Jordan talking about going to Madison Square Garden with the Chicago Bulls to play the New York Knicks.  

“The atmosphere there was very hostile and intimidating as it was here against Ronnie, but if you stand up and play well you can earn respect. I made a couple of centuries, and I think I earned respect today. And of course it has been a great couple of weeks for Australians as well.

“I am sure the cricket team are getting a lot more coverage then I am back home! Maybe if I won this and made 10 maximum 147s I might get a line in the papers in Australia.  

“But having beaten Ronnie in a quarter-final is not winning the tournament. When you get this far to the semi-finals, the most disappointing thing is not then making it count. The fans make this sport what it is, and on the single table here with 2,000 fans packed in it is an unbelievable privilege.  

“I hit the ball fantastically well. I missed a couple of balls and so did Ronnie but that is to be expected. There is a lot at stake and I wanted to put the disappointment of losing a big final to him before Christmas behind me.  

“I wanted a big performance and I gave one, and it was also a big step up from my first match last Sunday against Anthony McGill. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think I could win it, and if you can’t get up for the Masters you should give your place to someone else.”   

Ronnie O'Sullivan
Ronnie O'Sullivan

O’Sullivan said: “Neil deserved to win, so good luck to him and I hope he goes on to do well in this tournament because he is one of my favourites.  

“Why? I just like him, he’s a nice guy and person as well as being a great player. He’s hard to not like, isn’t he? He’s got a ‘clean heart’ as Liang Wenbo would say, that says everything.”  

Meanwhile, Judd Trump has responded to an ‘underachiever’ remark from snooker legend Dennis Taylor. Taylor, who won the World Championship in 1985 in the famous ‘black-ball’ final against Steve Davis, reckons the Juddernaut should have won more major titles given his talent. 

The ‘big three’ comprise the World and UK Championships plus the Masters – and to date while Trump has won 15 titles in the previous three complete seasons he only has three ‘snooker slams’. 

Taylor, 72, also a former Masters champion, said: “Listen, Judd is brilliant, I love commentating on him and he is an unbelievable player. But he should have won more, so even though he was won quite a bit you’d have to say he has underachieved with the ability that he has. 

“I would go way back to when he lost in the World Championship final in 2011 to John Higgins, had he have won that he would have won more events.” 

But world No22 Trump, still only 32 with 22 ranking titles to his name, said: “Everyone thinks I have underachieved! Look, I haven’t got much to say, really. I don’t know why people say that. 

“I am still so young in snooker terms, so maybe let’s wait until I am 46. Even then if I still had won only what I have won now, I still don’t think that’s underachieving. I have done so much already – so maybe they should all pick on someone else!” 

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