Neil Robertson Vows To Jump In Icy Alexandra Palace Lake If He Wins Masters

The Australian’s semi-final opponent, Mark Williams, knows all about having to honour rash promises
22:05, 14 Jan 2022

Neil Robertson has vowed to jump into the icy Alexandra Palace boating lake if he wins a second Masters title. And the Australian’s semi-final opponent on Saturday is Mark Williams – who can tell the world No4 all about having to honour rash promises. 

Welshman Williams, 46, appeared clad only in a towel for his press conference which he then removed under a table after winning a third Betfred World Championship at the Crucible in 2018.

Williams' infamous 2018 press conference
Williams' infamous 2018 press conference

That stemmed from a wild pledge earlier in the tournament to go naked  – however the main inspiration for Robertson’s notion came from a Christmas trip to family in Norway. 

There the 39-year-old, whose only Masters success came a decade ago, indulged in the local practice of steaming in a sauna before plunging into ice pools or lying in the snow. 

And he is now two wins away from a similarly freezing experience in a north London lake better known for its pedalos, swans and Canada geese. The temperature early Friday morning at Ally Pally was zero – and Robertson has also said wetsuits would be banned and it would be swimming shorts only. 

Robertson said: “In Norway and Oslo there are these little sauna huts from where they come out and do this crazy stuff - and Mille told me that I had to do it at least once. It sounds a bit weird, lying in a sauna for half an hour absolutely roasting and then jumping into either iced water or the actual snow. 

“When it was my turn I nearly turned round straight away because there was this 80-year-old guy who looked terrified, he jumped into the water and started screaming before running back inside. I bottled it a couple of times until my wife and son did it, then I agreed to do a snow angel in my swimming shorts.  

“So I went from roasting to lying down in the snow. It doesn’t hit you straight away, and you think ‘this is okay’. And then it hits you, the most shocking experience ever. I screamed and ran back into the sauna and have never been so relieved in my life. 

“I vowed then never to do that again in my life. But if I won this then I would maybe do something silly like jump in that ice-cold Alexandra Palace lake. So I’ll tell you what – if I win the Masters this year, then I’ll give it a crack in the same shorts I was using in Norway. 

“I can’t do it in my dress suit, my tailor would be absolutely spewing. And you won’t see me jumping in stark naked – not after what Mark Williams did at the Crucible for winning the world title.” 

Alexandra Palace's ice-cold boating lake
Alexandra Palace's ice-cold boating lake

Sport has a proud tradition of celebrating winners leaping into the water. As Robertson grew up in his home city of Melbourne Jim Courier jumped into the Yarra River after winning the Australian Open – something emulated by Angelique Kerber in 2016. 

Oisin Murphy jumped into the Thames last year following a promise to do so if he won the flat jockeys’ championship the autumn before. 

And golfers feature heavily in the list. Paul McGinley jumped in after holing the winning putt in the Ryder Cup at the Belfry in 2002. 

Jerry Pate took a dive at the Players’ Championship in 1982, and France’s Thomas Levet actually fractured a shin and missed the Open jumping into a lake after winning the 2011 French Open. 

Meanwhile, if Williams wins a third Masters title this year he can beat his own record of the number of years between successes in a Triple Crown tournament. 

Williams’ 2018 world title came 15 years after his previous win at the Crucible in Sheffield. But if he lifts the trophy this year it will be fully 19 years since beating Stephen Hendry in the 2003 final.

Mark Williams
Mark Williams

Williams, who reached the semi-finals with an epic 6-5 win over fellow Class of 1992 member John Higgins that featured three standing ovations, said: “To be honest, I can’t recall 2003 at all even though I beat Stephen Hendry 10-4. 

“That was the second time I had beaten him in a Masters final, but the only one anyone seems to remember is the 1998 one against him when I won it on the re-spotted black. 

“That gets played all the time on social media, which is the only reason really that I remember that one! So the last time I won it barely registers. 

“And if I win it for a third time, brilliant. As for the long gaps, I have been written off many times all my career, even when I won my first tournament people said I’d never win another one, and of course I dropped down to No47 in the rankings at one stage. 

“They all said that’s the end of him – but you’ll always get the doubters even being in the semi-finals of the Masters in 2022 at the age of 46, 47 in a couple of months.  

“My life has changed quite a bit in the last 19 years, that’s for sure. I have lost my hair, put on a bit of timber – but I can still pot a few balls and that surprises me to be honest. Once you get older, getting back towards the top of the rankings is harder and wouldn’t happen in other sports.”

Neil Robertson is 7/4 to win the Masters with Betfred*

*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject To Change

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