Ronnie beat Neil Robertson by 10-6 today in Shanghai, to reach the final for the third year in a row. He will play Shaun Murphy tomorrow in a best of 21 match.
As you can see above, it was a match of very high quality. Neil Robertson was the better player during the first session. Ronnie was still struggling with his long potting, therefore he had mainly to rely on Neil’s mistakes to get in. Neil’s long potting was deadly and he was playing well overall. Ronnie was excellent in the balls, his safety was extremely solid and he punished Neil’s rare mistakes. Neil had three centuries during the session, despite damaging his tip. Towards the end of the session Ronnie’s concentration seemed to drop a bit. the intersession came at the right time for him.
Neil Robertson established a 5-4 advantage over Ronnie O’Sullivan after the first session of their Shanghai Masters semi-final despite losing a chunk of his tip.
With O’Sullivan leading 3-2, Robertson miscued when attempting a yellow in the sixth frame and damaged his tip to the extent of losing a chunk from it. That caused a temporary suspension to play as Robertson assessed the damage. He decided to play on with the same tip and claimed three of the remaining four frames in the session.
The match will be played to a conclusion this evening, with the winner progressing to Sunday’s final where they will face Shaun Murphy. The top prize on offer this week is £200,000.
O’Sullivan took the opening frame on the final ball after a sublime clearance of 47, which ended with a cross doubled pink and a difficult cut back black.
Triple crown winner Robertson responded immediately with a break of 107 to get his first frame on the board. The Rocket then regained the lead, before Robertson composed his second century of the match with a break of 101 to make it 2-2 at the mid-session.
Five-time World Champion O’Sullivan claimed the first frame after the interval, before Robertson once again drew level despite encountering tip trouble in frame six. A contribution of 52 helped O’Sullivan to move 4-3 up. However, Robertson drew level and moved to the front for the first time with a superb contribution of 129 to end the session 5-4 ahead.
During the second session Ronnie was the best player; he managed to win the sessionby 6-1. The first two frames were close. After that, Ronnie dominated the match. Neil briefly rallied in frame 15, but that’s all he could do. Ronnie finished the match with a great 134.
Ronnie O’Sullivan extended his three-year unbeaten run in the Shanghai Masters after securing a 10-6 win in his semi-final with Neil Robertson.
The Rocket picked up the titles in 2017 and 2018. Last year he came out on top in a thrilling final with Barry Hawkins 11-9 to win the first running of the event since a format switch made it the most lucrative invitational tournament in the sport. He has now won 14 consecutive matches in the event.
This year it will be Shaun Murphy standing in his way as he bids to pick up the £200,000 top prize. They will do battle over the best of 21 frames and two sessions tomorrow for the title, with Murphy contesting his first ever Shanghai Masters final.
Defeat will come as a tough pill to swallow for Australia’s Robertson, who was dealt a bitter blow in the opening session when he damaged his tip miscuing a yellow. Despite that setback he did emerge from the afternoon’s play with a 5-4 advantage.
When they came out this evening five-time World Champion O’Sullivan took a tight opening frame after a further miscue from Robertson when on a break of 42 allowed the Englishman to restore parity.
Crucially Robertson then missed a difficult final black along the top cushion when attempting to clear up and steal the next frame. That ended his run on 51 and allowed O’Sullivan the simplest of pots to move 6-5 up.
A break of 87 then made it 7-5, before O’Sullivan claimed the final frame before the mid-session to go 8-5 ahead. A century run of 102 put him within a frame of victory when they returned.
Robertson stoically fought on and got his first frame of the evening to make it 9-6. However, O’Sullivan wrapped up his win in the following frame with a sumptuous break of 134.
O’Sullivan said: “I’m pleased to get through to the final. This is a special tournament and my favourite one on the circuit. It is always nice to do well in this event.
“I’m proud of any record I can get in snooker, so not losing here in three years is great. I just like to play and I like to compete. There have been a couple of times this week where I feel that haven’t performed. That can zap a bit of energy out of you. I think snooker is about whether you can win when you aren’t playing your best. I have won a lot of tournaments doing that so I know I can. When you are playing well it is an easy game and it doesn’t take anything out of you.
“Shaun has been player of the season so far. He got to the final in Daqing and there was no shame in losing to Judd Trump. What is impressive is that he has come here and beat some very good players to get into the final again. He is in good form and it will be a tough game tomorrow.”
Robertson said: “Playing with the damaged tip was really tough. It was like trying to do an 800 metre race in the Olympics with a pulled hamstring. Then your only hopes are the rest of the field falling over and allowing you to win.
“Towards the end of the first session I made a good century break. However, I didn’t need to play any screw shots that put pressure on the tip. I didn’t realise how bad it was and it was just one shot away from getting permanently damaged. In hindsight I should have put a new tip on between the sessions.”
Shanghai Masters 2019 – Ronnie v Neil Robertson SF
Thanks to Tai Chengzhe for a few great images!