2021 Tour Championship – Neil Robertson is your Champion

Neil Robertson played incredible snooker yesterday to beat Ronnie by 10-4 and win his 20th ranking title.

Congratulations Neil Robertson!

Those are the scores:

2021TourChampionshipFinalScores

As it clear from the above, Ronnie was able to compete with Neil in the first session. It all changed in the second session where Neil was simply unplayable, ruthless. I don’t think anyone could have lived with him yesterday evening. That’s how great champions need to be.Off the table, Neil is one of the kindest person you could meet but on the table he’s a ferocious competitor.

Ronnie didn’t play badly, far from it, he simply wasn’t allowed to play in the final session. As he had done all week, he gave it all and the way he finished the afternoon session is testimony of that. Despite the defeat, he should be proud of the way he played, and donducted himself this week, despite the frustrations of playing with a damaged cue.

Here are the reports by WST:

Afternoon session

O’Sullivan And Robertson Share Frames

2021TourChampionshipROSRobbo-2World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan and UK Champion Neil Robertson are locked level at 4-4 following the first session of the Cazoo Tour Championship final at the Celtic Manor Resort.

The clash is a repeat of the 2019 Tour Championship final, when O’Sullivan defeated Robertson 13-11.

World number four Robertson came into this week’s event having won just a single match since the turn of the year, but he’s produced sublime snooker to reach today’s final. The Australian has eased past Jack Lisowski 10-5 and Mark Selby 10-3 so far.

O’Sullivan is aiming to avoid becoming the first player ever to lose five ranking finals in a single season. The 37-time ranking event winner is yet to claim silverware this season, but has been runner-up at the Northern Ireland Open, Scottish Open, Welsh Open and Players Championship.

The Rocket came through an epic semi-final with Barry Hawkins 10-9 yesterday evening. However, there were no signs of a hangover early on this afternoon, as he took a tightly contested opener to move 1-0 up.

The game then sparked into life, as Robertson responded with a century run of 103 to restore parity. O’Sullivan regained the lead with 128, before Robertson made it 2-2 at the mid-session with a break of 70.

The following four frames saw the pair both rack up breaks of 133, with Robertson leading 4-2, before being pegged back to 4-4 at the end of play.

Evening session

Relentless Robertson Claims Tour Title

2021TourChampionshipWinnerNeil Robertson produced a sublime display to beat Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-4 and win the Cazoo Tour Championship at the Celtic Manor Resort.

This evening’s victory marks the 20th ranking title of 2010 World Champion Robertson’s career, moving him ahead of Mark Selby who has 19.

The Australian had a fine first half of this season, capturing the UK Championship title in December. However, Robertson came into this week having won just a solitary match since then. He pulled out of the Scottish Open and Welsh Open and decided against entering the WST Pro Series.

Robertson’s selective schedule since the turn of the year has paid dividends, with this week’s win earning him the top prize of £150,000.

World Champion O’Sullivan leaves Wales with £60,000. He will now turn his attention to the defence of his World Championship title in Sheffield next month.

It’s sweet revenge for Robertson, who was defeated 13-11 in the 2019 Tour Championship final at the hands of O’Sullivan. This is the first time Robertson has ever beaten the Rocket in a match extending over more than one session.

O’Sullivan picks up the unwanted record of becoming the first ever player to lose five ranking finals in a single season. The 37-time ranking event winner was also runner-up at the Northern Ireland Open, Scottish Open, Welsh Open and Players Championship.

This afternoon’s opening session left the tie finely poised after the pair ended in parity at 4-4. However, 39-year-old Robertson completely dominated proceedings this evening.

A break building blitz saw him charge clear, composing runs of 93, 75, 123 and 119 in consecutive frames to lead 8-4 at the mid-session interval. When they returned he fired in breaks of 48 and 42 to move one from glory at 9-4. He then clinched the title in style, finishing off the victory with a superb break of 114.

2021TourChampionshipROSRobbo-7Robertson said: “Considering the opposition, it is the best I’ve played in a final. The Champion of Champions final with Judd Trump was up there, but that was a more complete performance. I didn’t really miss anything in the whole match. It is very pleasing knowing I’m capable of doing that going into the World Championship.

“I was just in the zone from the get go. It was somewhat made easier because I knew my preparation was really good. This week it was all about putting a lot of things in place so I could have the best chance of winning the World Championship as possible. That was about playing every match and session on my terms.

It’s only going to motivate Ronnie more in the World Championship. He is going to be going there so determined. He may not say it, but that is going to really annoy him and fire him up. I feel sorry for whoever he is going to play in the first couple of rounds.”

O’Sullivan said: “I’ve never seen anyone play as well as that. His cue action is just ridiculous, straight through the ball, tempo doesn’t change and he opens his back hand like nobody else. It was unbelievable. He made it look like he was playing on a pool table today. There were balls that if you don’t cue right they hit the knuckle, but these were bang in the middle. I can’t compete with that. I just had to sit back and enjoy it. That was amazing play.

Ronnie has always admired Neil’s technique and, in a way, it’s amazing that this is what hecame up with in his postmatch, not the usual things we hear from most losers, but an assessment of his opponent first class cue action and technique.

Yes, losing five ranking finals in a season is an unwanted record… although to “earn” it you must reach five ranking finals in a season in the first place and not many professionals have done that. Most of them haven’t even reached five ranking finals in their entire career! Even players like Graeme Dott and Matthew Stevens haven’t won more than 10 in their career so far, and both have been World finalists twice, Dott winning the big one in 2006.

There were some interesting reactions reported in the press

This by Phil Haigh

Ronnie O’Sullivan talks up Neil Robertson’s Crucible chances after Tour Championship final thrashing

Neil Robertson
Neil Robertson claimed the Tour Championship title for the first time (Picture: WST)

Ronnie O’Sullivan believes that if Neil Robertson can keep up the form he showed in his 10-4 victory in the Tour Championship final on Sunday night, he will be the man to beat at the World Championship next month.

The Australian has been in superb form this week and continued it into the showpiece, knocking in four centuries as he demolished the Rocket.

The first session of the match ended level at 4-4 but Robertson returned in the evening and won six frames on the spin in a tremendous display of break-building.

The current world champion could do little about the Aussie’s brilliance and claimed it was as good a display as he has ever seen.

‘I’ve never seen anyone play as well as that,’ O’Sullivan told ITV. ‘His cue action is just ridiculous.

‘Straight through the ball, tempo doesn’t change, opens his backhand like you’ve never seen anyone open it before. It’s ridiculous, really.

‘He made it look like he’s playing on a pool table today. I was like: “Is he sure?”

‘I can’t compete with that, I just have to sit back and enjoy it. Amazing play.’

It is the fifth ranking final defeat of the season for O’Sullivan, with no trophies added to his collection yet this campaign, but he insists the losses are not bothering him.

He does admit, though, that he or anyone else will be able to stop Robertson in Sheffield if he keeps this form up.

‘Results don’t make me confident, my game makes me confident. If my game’s in good shape I’ll be confident,’ he said.

If I find a bit of form then you never know.

I think if this guy keeps playing the way he’s playing I think he’ll probably be the man to beat.

Robertson beat Judd Trump to win the UK championship in dramatic fashion in December but had won just one match since then before this event.

The Melbourne star had taken some time away from the game to prepare for the business end of the calendar, namely the Tour and World Championships, and it appears to have paid off handsomely.

‘I’ve beaten Ronnie before but never over a multiple-session match,’ he said. ‘If I’m going to compete well at the World Championship, that’s the sort of performance I have to put in.

I have to be there every session, I think I’ve done that all week, I’ve been there to pick up the pieces when somebody makes a mistake.’

Ronnie O'Sullivan and Neil Robertson
There was little O’Sullivan could do about Robertson’s brilliance (Picture: WST)

It has indeed been dominance form start to finish for Robertson, beating Jack Lisowski 10-5 in the quarter-finals and then Mark Selby 10-3 in the semis.

‘I played really, really well all week, my preparation was fantastic, practicing really well,’ he explained. ‘Just tried to maintain the tempo, play the game on my terms.

‘Play my way, play how I do in practice. See the red, go for it and try to clear up the table, irrespective of who I’m playing. That’s what I’m trying to do.’

Seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry agrees with the Rocket that Robertson is certainly a force to be reckoned with at the Crucible, but feels the same can be said about the likes of John Higgins and Judd Trump.

‘On form there’s no doubts about it,’ Hendry said of Robertson being a world title favourite.

‘John Higgins if he can recreate the form form the Players Championship. Judd Trump had a disappointing loss this week but you can’t discount the world number one, a serial winner.

But Neil Robertson on that form, he’ll take some beating.’

That is not to mention O’Sullivan himself and the likes of Mark Selby, last year’s finalist Kyren Wilson and the man who beat Trump this week, Barry Hawkins, among many others.

The World Championship is shaping up very nicely indeed.

And from Eurosport:

TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP 2021 – NEIL ROBERTSON PROUD OF ACHIEVEMENTS IN SNOOKER AFTER MAKING NEW MARK

The Australian crushed Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-4 to win the Tour Championship, but expects the Rocket to be a far more formidable opponent when the World Championship gets underway next month. Robertson feels the spectators that are expected to be at the Crucible will spur on the defending champion in Sheffield

Neil Robertson has expressed pride at the part he has played in the history of snooker, after moving up to seventh on the list of all-time ranking tournament winners.
The Australian crushed Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-4 to win the Tour Championship, which was his 20th ranking title and moved him above Mark Selby.
Robertson almost gave up the sport after falling off the tour as a teenager, but he worked on his game and has become one of the most decorated players in snooker.

The Australian and Ding Junhui have been the flagbearers for overseas snooker players, and he is proud that other are coming through.
Yan Bingtao won the Masters in January to follow in the footsteps of his fellow China star Ding, and Robertson hopes more overseas talents will emerge.
“Being from overseas, it adds something different that the majority of the tour don’t face,” Robertson said. “There are more players from overseas coming in, which is great, and it makes me feel great about what Ding and I have been able to do.
It was all British domination with the sport and not many people had been successful in staying in the UK for a long time, so myself and Ding have been able to do that and it is just nice to be part of the history of the game where we have been able to break that open and create chances for people like Yan Bingtao winning the Masters, and it is all part of being part of snooker history and I am glad I have been able to play a part.

Robertson’s focus now shifts to the World Championship in Sheffield next month.
Being able to stay focused over multiple sessions is key to his chances.
“I have beaten Ronnie before, but never over a multiple-session match,” he said. “If I am to compete at the World Championship, I have to do that.

I WILL HAVE TO COMPETE IN EVERY SESSION AND I HAVE DONE THAT IN ALL OF MY MATCHES. I HAVE BEEN THERE IN EVERY SESSION AND BEEN THERE TO PICK UP THE PIECES WHEN SOMEONE HAS MADE A MISTAKE.”

Crowds are expected to be back at the Crucible, and Robertson feels that will play to O’Sullivan’s advantage.
“The crowd adds a different dynamic,” the 39-year-old said. “It is different when he has 90% of the crowd with him and he has his tail up.
“That is going to add something in the World Championship, and the other players will have to be prepared for that when they play him.”

Here are few pictures shared on social media, mainly by WST:

And this short video:

9 thoughts on “2021 Tour Championship – Neil Robertson is your Champion

  1. I’m still clinging to my season-long belief that Ronnie has planned his entire season around trying to “peak” for the Crucible, and that he hasn’t been too bothered about winning other events before the World Championship. He wants to be confident in his ability but without too much external pressure or expectation, and I would like to think he has done a pretty good job this season of setting himself up in that way.

    For me (and I think for Ronnie), this season is “World Championship or bust”.

  2. I know that we all would love to see Ronnie win. But the the way I see it, reaching five ranking in one season is quite an achievement. Who else has done it? Ronnie is 45 years old still dangerous and competing for the big titles.
    And on the positive side, Neil Robertson is not in Ronnie’s half of the draw at the World Championships, which could be an advantage since Trump and Robertson might meet each other in the semis.
    Thanks for your great website, Monique.

  3. I have been very busy with work and wasn’t able to watch at all last week, but I did manage to see the final. What’s most impressive about Robertson is how quickly he seems to have reset his game, which was in a bad shape since the UK Championship. It remains to be seen whether he can sustain that level in the World Championship: Robertson is a player who likes to stand back from the table to sight the balls, and walk into the shot. The Crucible’s lack of space makes his normal routine impossible. His record there hasn’t really done him justice.

    As was said in his interview, he has played an important role in making the game more global, or at least appear that way. Ding has also been successful, as was Thorburn who played in an era of fewer tournaments (he was prohibited from the UK Championship). But it’s still very fragile: in 1983 there were 3 Canadians in the top-8, but it all fell away alarmingly quickly.

  4. Nice article, Monique, as always. The only thing I would desagree about Robertson is that he was unplayable. Ruthless, yes, because he pounced almost every mistake Ronnie made. But unlike in a match against Higgins, Ronnie did have chances in the early part of the second session. Yes, some of them were not easy but it’s only Ronnie to blame that he did not take them. And not Robertson’s cue action. Although Robbo was increadible. In any case, I feel devastated but I agree with Robertson that all these losses in the finals may be a blessing in disguise for Ronnie ahead of World Championship.

  5. I don’t know. I did not feel Neil was unplayable. Once among the balls he was amazing and did not miss – something Barry also accomplished till frame 16. But Ronnie had plenty of chances, he played some good safety battles, forced the error from Neil, and when he had the whole thing set up, he missed the pot, let Neil in and he didn’t miss. Neil also won one frame I think straight from a long pot after Ronnie’s break-off, which is a usual worry, but he didn’t knock on long pots after every break off as I feared. He missed a few actually. It was all very strange and worried me, just like this article says:

    https://www.eurosport.co.uk/snooker/tour-championship/2021/tour-championship-2021-neil-robertson-delivers-masterclass-to-crush-ronnie-o-sullivan-to-win-title_sto8197302/story.shtml

    “O’Sullivan’s missed red in the ninth frame was a tough one, but the errors he made in the 10th were all of his own making – and extremely worrying. He missed a simple red, fouled the brown and played a poor safety. The third of those mistakes proved fatal, as Robertson stepped in with a break of 75.”

    Of course congrats to Neil, he is a really good and likeable guy and played well all week, but then neither Lisowski, not Selby gave him much of a challenge.

    5 final lost will make it a frustrating season for Ronnie, but hat’s the way it is. 😦

    • Yes Ronnie did make mistakes. They all make a few, and it was clear that Ronnie had little confidence in his long potting with the damaged cue. He also had a couple of bad misses when trying to apply a lot of side and looked genuinely puzzled. I still believe that Neil was next to unplayable. in the second session. When your opponent clears every time he is at the table, and you have no confidence in your cue, as a snooker player, you’re bound to feel “deflated”…

      • *Well, if it’s a blessing in disguise it disguised itself very well, as I fail to see the blessing part.

        From all the people Ronnie lost to this season Neil is the least bad for me (my taste). And he played great and pounced on every mistake and then did not miss and I don’t know how much it played psychologically knowing that if you miss, the frame is over, but it still hurts, because I admired the initial patience and tactic by Ronnie to set up the position and then when he missed the pot that was utterly frustrating. I’m not in the position to judge how much part the cue played in it and we most likely won’t hear it, because he won’t go around presenting excuses like some others. But the whole thing just left me worried more than anything. (In Ronnie’s snooker-terms obviously.)

        I don’t know the man, but despite all the brave face he puts up and genuine admiration for Neil’s game, I can’t imagine that he is too happy about this whole season.

      • Well, I know him … and, of course he won’t be happy, but since he’s been working with Steve Peters, he has learned not to torture himself over the defeats and the bad days. Well, at least not anywhere as much as he used to. He’s still highly competitive – make not mistake – and I expect him to try his hardest at the Crucible. But snooker is now a part of his life, still an important part but not ALL his life, and he’s much happier and serene for it. Also he has accepted that at 45 he’s no more “in his prime”.

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