Neil Robertson beat Ronnie by 6-5 to book his place in the Final, where he will play either Mark Allen or Judd Trump. It’s the first time in six appereances in the tournament that Ronnie doesn’t reach the final.
ROBERTSON THUNDERS INTO MANBETX CHAMPION OF CHAMPIONS FINAL
Ronnie O’Sullivan 5–6 Neil Robertson
73-7 (66), 40-67, 1-71 (62), 81-7 (81), 0-108 (108), 81-55, 45-87 (87), 86-0 (86), 60-57, 0-135 (135), 6-104 (90)
Neil Robertson beat Ronnie O’Sullivan 6-5 in one of the standout matches of the season so far to book his place in the final of the ManBetX Champion of Champions at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry.
It is the second time 2015 champion Robertson has reached the tournament final but the first time in six appearances that O’Sullivan hasn’t.
In a gripping match played in front of a sold out crowd, both players were leading at stages but neither ever by more than one frame. At 4-4 the ninth went down to the final black and a brilliant shot sent O’Sullivan one up with two to play.
Robertson, however, responded in style with the tournament’s highest break so far, a fine 135 made under pressure. In the decider, O’Sullivan missed a safety as the cue stopped short of the pack, leaving a red on for Robertson, who duly began a clearance of 90 to win a compelling match of the highest standard.
“I was extremely determined today, concentrated on my own game and made sure I was going to be very aggressive, as he has been all week as well,” said Robertson, who will face either Judd Trump or Mark Allen – who meet tomorrow evening – in Sunday’s best-of-19 final.
“We have a huge amount of respect for each other. Ronnie has got the better of me the last few times we have played, and in a couple of big finals obviously. You don’t want to make a habit of losing to somebody, even though a few of the times I have lost to him he has played fantastic stuff.
“There was a lot of high scoring, some great potting, a couple of close frames. The crowd were great and I am sure they really enjoyed the match. It was an awesome match to be a part of. We were both extremely aggressive, neither of us backed down and that’s what makes it most pleasing; I beat him my own way, playing my natural style.
“Judd and Mark are both brilliant players, I have had some wonderful matches with them and it will be two lefties in the final. I can’t wait to get out there and play in another final.”
Despite the defeat, there is a lot of positives to be drawn from this match. Ronnie was calm, collected and played extremely well himself. He was aggressive, without being reckless. His shot time was his usual … and certainly nothing even close to the 10 seconds he was – allegedly – targeting when interviewed on Thursday. What probably made the difference is the long potting. That has always been one of Neil’s strongest weapons, and, yesterday, he was deadly. Ronnie wasn’t too bad himself, he got quite a number of long pots too, but, when he needs to play those shots with power, he tends to lose some accuracy. That of course is an issue.
It was an excellent match, one that every fan of the sport will appreciate, even if, we, as Ronnie fans, would have preferred a different result.
Many thanks to Tai Chengzhe for those great pictures