Neil Robertson Hands Out More Tour Championship Pain For Ronnie O’Sullivan

Robertson roared back from 4-1 down early on, and then dug deep to take the last two frames.
13:00, 02 Apr 2022

Neil Robertson stood up to another century-break barrage from Ronnie O’Sullivan to hand out more Tour Championship pain for the Rocket.

The 40-year-old Australian, the defending champion having also beaten the new world No1 in the final last year, is back in Sunday's showpiece occasion after a thrilling 10-9 win in Llandudno on Friday night.

O’Sullivan, 46, became the first player ever to make five century breaks in consecutive matches having done it against Mark Williams in the quarter-finals.

But it still wasn’t enough against the player of the season at the Venue Cymru, as Robertson roared back from 4-1 down early on, and then dug deep to take the last two frames.

In a classic see-saw encounter that ebbed and flowed at the tournament for the best eight players of the campaign Robertson was 8-6 up before falling 9-8 adrift.

But in this third epic of a trilogy between the pair in this tournament Robertson piled more misery on his opponent having beaten him to lift the trophy 12 months ago.

And he will play for the £150,000 first prize in the last tournament before this month’s Betfred World Championship at the Crucible.

Robertson, who is chasing a fourth title of a phenomenal campaign, said: “It was some match, and we were both throwing the kitchen sink at each other. 

“The first session of the final…you will never see a better session of snooker than that. There could have been eight centuries. Ronnie went 4-1 up and then I came back strongly.

“Against anyone else I think he would have stormed to a 6-2 or 7-1 lead, and you don’t come back from that against him. But because of the season I have had I was able to hang in there and hit back. When you play like he played at the start, you almost expect some weakness from your opponent. But I didn’t show any, and it set the night session up beautifully.

“Then I got a good 7-5 lead at the evening interval, and he came back strongly. Neither of us were willing to give up or back down. And somehow I managed to take that chance in the decider.

“It was a brave shot taking the red down the cushion but I was thinking if I played safe and he won, I would really regret not having had a go at it. I went all out for it and made a brilliant break of 80 getting some real pressure balls.

“Ronnie is the best player that has ever played, but my recent record against him is pretty good. I maintained a good tempo, my shot time was good, I didn’t think too much and go into my shell. I stayed positive throughout.

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“Ronnie is not only the best player ever, but he picks up on things like the body language of his opponent, he is the best at reading it. So it is important to both be and look positive. And he said some nice things at the end, saying he had also played really well.”

O’Sullivan said: “Neil has got unbelievable technique and he’s the complete player, really. For me he is the best player in the world, and if he played more tournaments he would probably be world No1.

“He is a phenomenal player in his prime and probably playing the best snooker he has ever played.”

O’Sullivan’s quarter-final final-frame victory over Mark Williams had been an absolute classic and one of the matches of the season.

And right from the start next week’s world No1, back on top of the pile for a fifth time in his 30-year career, looked set along with the Australian to serve up more of the same.

Robertson set the tone with an opening break of 115 – but incredibly found himself 3-1 down at the mid-session interval after runs of 125, 90 and 106 from the Rocket.

And there was no let-up for the remainder of the afternoon as the audience were served up with a masterclass. 

O’Sullivan’s third century of the contest, an effort of 128, put him 4-1 up and lesser opponents might have crumbled at that stage.

But Robertson then went on a trademark surge taking six of the next seven frames, helped by breaks of 62, 54, 85, 95, and then in the evening 50, 66 and 117 to lead 8-6.

O’Sullivan responded by rattling in a brilliant break of 100, his fourth century of the day and the 23rd in this year’s event – equalling last year’s record tally of 23.

And despite a scare he levelled at 8-8 making it a best-of-three for a place in the final. Robertson got a snooker he needed to win the frame, but then missed an easy pink.

A run of 112 put the Rocket one up with two to play, but Robertson took it to an almost inevitable decider. And a great 80 after taking on a really tough opening red gave Robertson the win.

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