Neil Robertson avenged last month Worl Grand Prix defeat by beating Ronnie by 6-4 in the quarter-finals of the Masters.
Here are the scores and the stats:
It was a good match overall, although Ronnie wasn’t at his best. The telling number in the above stats is the 50% long pot success. That was Ronnie’s undoing mainly. It also dragged down his overall pot success. He was well better than 88% pot success when in the balls.
Neil’s positional game wasn’t great – it’s not really Neil’s biggest strength – but his potting was out of this world at times so it mattered little.
Robertson Knocks Out Crowd Favourite O’Sullivan
Ten years after winning the title for the first time, Neil Robertson boosted his hopes of another Cazoo Masters crown with a 6-4 victory over seven-time champion Ronnie O’Sullivan in the quarter-finals.
The majority of a 2,000-strong crowd at Alexandra Palace had hoped to see O’Sullivan march towards an eighth title, but he was never in front against Robertson, who eventually pulled away from 4-4 to take the last two frames. For the Australian, it was a measure of revenge as he lost 10-8 to O’Sullivan in last month’s Cazoo World Grand Prix final.
World number four Robertson, who turns 40 next month, is the first man into the semi-finals in London and will face either John Higgins or Mark Williams on Saturday afternoon. Having been knocked out in the first round of this event in both 2020 and 2021, he is now just two wins away from the £250,000 top prize.
Robertson took a 2-0 lead with breaks of 119 and 56, then O’Sullivan hit back, dominating the third frame and taking the fourth with a run of 66. O’Sullivan had a chance to snatch the fifth from 50-0 down but missed a close-range pot on the penultimate red to a centre pocket on 29, allowing his opponent to regain the lead.
In frame six, Robertson was on 37 when he failed to convert a tough long red to a baulk corner, and O’Sullivan punished him with a 102, his 80th career century at the Masters. Once again the Englishman fell behind, missing a red to top corner early in frame seven which let Robertson in for a superb 130 to lead 4-3.
There were two scoring chances for Robertson early in frame eight but he mustered just 32 points, and O’Sullivan replied with 68 for 4-4. Runs of 43 and 49 from Robertson saw him take the lead for the fourth occasion. And this time he made the advantage count, as a run of 54 gave him control of frame ten. O’Sullivan had one final chance to fight back, but made just 6 before missing a mid-range red, and that proved his last shot.
“I saw the stats after the match and my pot success was 96% which is incredibly high in such a high pressure environment,” said 2010 World Champion Robertson. “I’m really proud of myself, the way I managed to pull through. Ronnie wouldn’t go away, very much like our final in Coventry where he kept hanging on.
“When you play Ronnie here, you need to show what you can do when you get chances. The crowd were complimentary when I was making breaks, but of course most of them are supporting Ronnie. You have to stay calm, think positive and don’t take it personally that they are cheering for their hero. He has absolutely earned that through the decades he has been on top of the game.
“I have ultimate respect for Ronnie and I have come to his defence a few times where I have seen where he was coming from. He has always been really good with me, win or lose. It makes for great matches when you have two players who respect each other so much, there’s no needle between us.
“This is an event I haven’t won for a while, I got to a couple of finals after I won it in 2012. I would love to go that step further and put myself in position to win another one.”
O’Sullivan, who bit the tip off his cue at the end of the match, said: “Good luck to Neil, I hope he does well. My mindset is that I don’t care too much whether I win or lose and I am not going to change that – even when I won the event in Coventry last month I didn’t get too excited about it.”
Here are some images, including the tip biting moment … poor tip!
There was another report , this one by Eurosport, with more details on how the match unfolded:
MASTERS 2022 – NEIL ROBERTSON HOLDS NERVE TO BEAT RONNIE O’SULLIVAN AND BOOK PLACE IN SEMI-FINALS AT ALEXANDRA PALACE
Neil Robertson and Ronnie O’Sullivan locked horns at the Aexandra Palace for a place in the semi-finals of the Masters, O’Sullivan got the better of the Australian when the pair met in the final of the World Grand Prix in Coventry towards the end of last year. On this occasion, it was the Australian who secured victory.
Neil Robertson exacted revenge for his recent loss to Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final of the World Grand Prix with a 6-4 victory in the quarter-finals of the Masters.
The Australian could not withstand a late assault from O’Sullivan in Coventry before Christmas, but on this occasion he secured an early lead and fended off a fightback to prevail.
Two centuries were the highlights for Robertson, but of greater significance was how he kept fending off a player who has often found a way of putting him under the cosh at the business end of matches.
O’Sullivan made a cagey start, as a wild missed pot and poor safety handed Robertson a chance and he set his stall out with a break of 119 to take the opener.
Despite ultimately running out an impressive winner against Jack Lisowski, OSullivan made a nervous start in the first round. It was a similar theme against Robertson, as he saw a red into left middle hit the far knuckle and shortly afterwards missed a long red by a distance. The second miss proved costly, as Robertson crafted a break of 56 to move two frames ahead.
O’Sullivan had been kept cold for two frames, and a huge roar greeted the Rocket’s first successful pot – after 35 minutes of playing time. It earned him a solitary point, as he did not drop on a colour. But a good safety earned him a chance a short while later and he did enough to get on the board.
Robertson looked sure to head into the interval with a two-frame cushion, but he missed a red into the left middle with the balls well split. O’Sullivan, buoyed by taking the previous frame, knocked in a 66 to draw level.
The fifth felt like one that got away from O’Sullivan as he mounted a counter to Robertson’s break of 50, but missed the penultimate red – seemingly focused on position for the final red – and the 2012 champion edged back in front.
Robertson has been guilty of over-thinking things, and that appeared the case in the sixth. He was in the balls and seemingly well set, but took an age over a black and when he eventually executed the pot, he finished awkwardly on the following red. It wriggled in the jaws of the green pocket, and the Rocket punished with a break of 102 – his 80th Masters century.
The seventh was an adventure for Robertson, as he visited areas of the table he did not want to go anywhere near. But he kept pulling out top-class pots, and the 808th century of his career put him back in front once again.
The pattern of the match was similar to the World Grand Prix, as Robertson made the running but could not shake off O’Sullivan.
Robertson got in first in the eighth, but broke down and O’Sullivan countered brilliantly and a break of 68 was enough to bring him back on level terms, despite frustratingly dropping out of position at one stage.
The Australian took the ninth to move within one frame of the semi-finals and unlike in the World Grand Prix, Robertson was able to get over the line.
It was not done without drama, as he missed a routine brown off its spot when on 54. O’Sullivan’s counter was short-lived, and Robertson knocked in a pressure red to left middle and it helped him get over the line.
O’Sullivan has said he was not disappointed by the defeat, but would have liked to have pushed Robertson harder.
“I tried to make as much of it as I could,” O’Sullivan told Eurosport. “I tried to hang in there and do what I could. I am not too disappointed, it’s the way it goes sometimes.
“You set yourself to have a certain mentality towards something, so you can’t change your mind halfway through it. I’ve decided how I want to feel about how any of my games go.
“I am not as disappointed as I would be a few years ago, or most players would be on the circuit.
“I play for different reasons and I enjoy it and I enjoyed being out there today, it’s just a shame I could not find a good enough game which would have deserved to win.”
As a seven-time Masters and UK Champion and a world champion on six occasions, O’Sullivan holds most of the major records in the game and said it is nice to mention that on occasions.
““It is a good target for someone to chase, they have to chase that record, the Triple Crowns, the Masters, the UK,” O’Sullivan said. “I have not got the worlds, [Stephen] Hendry has that one, but I am chasing that one so it is good for everybody else to go for.
“I am not big headed, I am not someone who likes to blow smoke out of my whatever it is. But sometimes the statistics say everything and sometimes you have to remind yourself and everybody else that I have set pretty much every target to achieve in the game. Hendry did it in the 80s and 90s and [Steve] Davis, and I am pleased to be in that bracket, but I still like to enjoy playing.”
Here is the last frame of the match
And Ronnie’s post-match interview
Mark Williams beat John Higgins in the evening match. The reception that the players got was incredible, really something extraordinary. It probably was even louder than the Crucible reception for Judd Trump and John Higgins before their last session of the 2011 final, and, believe me, that was deafening! The match went to a decider.
Williams Wins Clash Of 92
Mark Williams edged out fellow ‘Class of 92’ member John Higgins 6-5, in what he described as an unforgettable atmosphere, to reach the semi-finals of the Cazoo Masters at Alexandra Palace.
This evening’s encounter was the 41st clash between the pair, who hold 55 ranking titles between them. Victory for 24-time ranking event winner Williams sees him reduce his head-to-head arrears to just one at 21-20 to 31-time ranking event winner Higgins.
Williams now faces Neil Robertson in the last four on Saturday. It will be the first time he has graced a Masters semi-final since 2010. The Welshman last won the Masters when he claimed the title for a second time 19 years ago in 2003.
Higgins will have to continue his wait for a first Masters title since 2006. The four-time World Champion was Masters runner-up to Yan Bingtao 12 months ago.
Glasgow’s Higgins has enjoyed a fine season so far, but today’s loss joins a string of gut-wrenching deciding frame defeats during the campaign. He lost Northern Ireland Open and English Open finals 9-8 at the hands of Mark Allen and Robertson respectively.
The two 46-year-old competitors were given a standing ovation by a raucous North London crowd when they emerged this evening. Higgins hit the ground running with a break of 126 to take the opener and lead 1-0. He extended his advantage by claiming the second on the pink to move 2-0 up.
Williams warmed to the task and a break of 116 helped him get his first frame on the board. He then took the fourth to restore parity at 2-2.
When play resumed they traded frames, before Williams composed a run of 66 to edge ahead at 4-3. The high standard relentlessly continued in the eighth, with Higgins drawing level thanks to a break of 127.
It had looked as if Higgins would be the first to move a frame from victory. He was going along nicely on a break of 43 when he inadvertently knocked a red in when developing the pack from the black. Williams ruthlessly stepped up and fired in a contribution of 78 to go 5-4 up.
Higgins refused to buckle and a break of 61 ensured that the nearly 2,000 strong crowd would be treated to a deciding frame. Both players left the arena to compose themselves and when they returned they were greeted by a second standing ovation. However, it was Williams who was the last man standing in the middle as he crafted a nerveless run of 91 to run out a 6-5 victor.
“That’s the best reception I’ve ever had in 30 years as a professional. I’ve had some good atmospheres, but that was electric. It felt like they were applauding for ten minutes before we could even break off. Coming out for the final frame they were doing it again,” said three-time World Champion Williams.
“I’ve got nothing but respect for John. He’s not my rival anymore and he hasn’t been for a few years now. When we were youngsters I really wanted to win, it’s not like that anymore. It is a special occasion every time I play him.
“I’ll never forget the atmosphere in there tonight. It was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. I’ve got to thank the crowd for making that atmosphere, because I wasn’t expecting it. That was unbelievable. If I could go out and shake every one of their hands I would.”
Higgins said: “That was one of the best nights in my snooker career, with the atmosphere. Rob Walker got the crowd into a frenzy when I played Judd Trump in the 2011 world final, but this was noisier because there were more fans in there. Rob did a great job getting the crowd whipped up and they were treated to a great game.
“I’m not even gutted, because I gave it everything and I just wasn’t good enough in the end. I am just delighted that the crowd had a great match. I had a great match and I loved playing out there. It is great to be back playing at Ally Pally.”
It was a clash of styles, as it always it between these two.
I was also another instance of a strange pattern that heas been there throughout the “Class of 92” career: John Higgins has the upper hand on Ronnie, Ronnie has it on Mark Williams, and Willo has it on John Higgins. It’s hard to be sure why.
For what it’s worth (not much) the only explanation I can see to the Higgins-Williams situation is that Willo’s unconventional game gets John out of his “patterns” and out of his comfort zone.
Mark Williams will now face Neil Robertson on Saturday and it should be another great match.
Despite Ronnie’s defeat, and a powercut depriving me of watching the afternoon match live from the MSI on, I enjoyed both matches.
Today the other half of the draw is in action. I’m not particularly enthralled…