It was a disappointing performance by Ronnie yesterday after the wonderful win against Judd Trump. He was beaten by 6-3 by Neil Robertson who was far from his best himself.
Here are the scores and stats
Thunder Strikes Down The Rocket
Neil Robertson secured his second quarter-final defeat of Ronnie O’Sullivan within the space of a month, after scoring a 6-3 win at the Cazoo Players Championship in Wolverhampton.
The Thunder from Down Under also beat O’Sullivan 6-4 on his way to winning the Cazoo Masters in January and has now beaten the Rocket in four of their last five meetings. However, O’Sullivan still leads the head-to-head 18-11.
Robertson has quickly recaptured his red hot form from winning the Masters. The Australian succumbed to an opening round defeat against Ricky Walden in Berlin at the recent German Masters and subsequently tested positive for Covid-19 upon his return home.
Now out of isolation, the 21-time ranking event winner appears to have maintained his high standards. He sealed an impressive 6-4 defeat of Kyren Wilson in the first round this week and his win over O’Sullivan books a semi-final meeting with either John Higgins or Jimmy Robertson.
Melbourne cueman Robertson has already lifted ranking silverware this season by beating Higgins 9-8 in the English Open final back in November. He’ll be hoping to add a second ranking crown this weekend.
Robertson’s performances in Wolverhampton have put him on the verge of a ensuring a place at next month’s Cazoo Tour Championship, an event which he won last season. Only the top eight on this season’s one-year list can earn a spot in the elite tournament. He currently sits in sixth position.
It was 2010 World Champion Robertson who controlled the opening stages of this evening’s encounter. Breaks of 79, 52, 82 and 80 saw him establish a hefty 4-1 advantage over six-time Crucible king O’Sullivan.
O’Sullivan responded with a break of 92 to keep himself in contention, before claiming the seventh to draw within a frame at 4-3. However, from there the match became more fragmented with both players missing numerous opportunities. It was Robertson who held himself together best, taking two on the bounce to wrap up the 6-3 victory.
“In the past I remember having little leads against him and I started to be more cautious and defensive, waiting for him to make mistakes. You can’t do that, you need to maintain a positive frame of mind and be the aggressor. That is the way I want to always play the game and I think that was what kept the pressure applied to him,” said Robertson, who celebrates his 40th birthday on Friday.
“You have to deal with the crowd when you play Ronnie. If you aren’t able to deal with it then you aren’t going to be successful and winning tournaments every season. The likelihood is that you are going to need to beat Ronnie along the way at some point. It can be really tough for some players and even me. You definitely notice it when you make a mistake and the crowd cheer him. He has earned that over the years and you just have to respect that.
“Jimmy will be the underdog in the semi-finals if he gets through, but he will be feeling really good and thinking anything is a bonus. I am very experienced playing against underdogs though. I am also used to the scenario of playing someone like John, where it is 50/50 and down to who plays best on the day.”
RONNIE O’SULLIVAN ‘DIDN’T TURN UP’ IN PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP LOSS TO NEIL ROBERTSON, SAYS STEPHEN HENDRY
Neil Robertson proved too good for Ronnie O’Sullivan as he booked his place in the semi-finals of the 2022 Players Championship. Robertson made four half-century breaks in the win and will next face Jimmy Robertson or John Higgins. Seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry gave his verdict on O’Sullivan’s performance.
Stephen Hendry said Ronnie O’Sullivan “didn’t turn up” after he was beaten 6-3 in the quarter-finals of the Players Championship by Neil Robertson.
O’Sullivan was unable to reproduce the impressive performance that saw him past Judd Trump in the previous round.
The Rocket missed several balls as he fell 4-1 behind against Robertson, who looked in good touch from the start.
“The first frame was quite slow and he doesn’t like that side of the game.”
O’Sullivan was also beaten by Robertson in the quarter-finals of the Masters last month.
“He was good,” admitted O’Sullivan.
“I dragged him down to my level a bit and he missed a few and allowed me to get back into it. He was much the better player and I just tried to hang in there and see what happened. When you start snatching at shots it’s hard.
“If you don’t cue the ball smoothly it becomes a difficult game. Neil is an incredible cueist and gets through the ball so well.
“You have to cue well and play well to stay with that. I was bits and pieces. I suppose that’s what happens later in your career, you get a few more matches that are not really good enough.”
Robertson, who made four half-century breaks, will await the winner of the last quarter-final between Jimmy Robertson and John Higgins.
The winner of that match will face either Ricky Walden or Barry Hawkins in the final.
Reflecting on his performance and having most of the crowd against him, Robertson said: “Any little mistake I was making or any sign of giving him any encouragement the crowd were taking the opportunity. A lot of players struggle in that environment but I’ve played him enough now to expect that.
“A good way to silence them a bit is a really good start and that’s what I got off to, going 4-1 in front playing really well, unlucky not to get 5-1 maybe. Couple of disjointed frames, I finished it off quite well in the end.
“It is important to get off to a good start because the way he plays the game he is never going to slow things up and make the frames scrappy. He will keep going for shots. I don’t think it matters what tactics or gameplan you have against Ronnie, you have to score, if you don’t score he will beat you no matter what.”
Robertson also said he felt conditions changed as the match wore on and the table started to slow down drastically.
“The table in the second half of the match was really tough to play on, it was so slow, it was incredible,” he said.
“I could feel the ripples in the cloth. It was really tough to move the white around and Ronnie is probably the best player I’ve seen at adapting to conditions and he maybe started to handle it a bit better than me, fortunately for me he missed a few tough balls into the middle.”
I find that quote by Neil Foulds a bit weird. It’s only recently that Ronnie won a major tournament. It is true that he hasn’t been very consistent this season, but the same is true for a lot of players I feel and you have to wonder why; maybe the calendar structure plays a part here. There’s a lot of “gaps” followed by “packed” 3-4 weeks.
That said, it was obvious from the start that Ronnie had none of the “intensity” he showed against Judd.
There is no mention of Neil’s quotes about the table in the WST report. “Feeling the ripples in the cloth” has to be really bad! Actually both players were visibly frustrated and they probably had no trust in the table whatsoever. Snooker is hard enough when conditions are OK, this really isn’t right and WST should seriously look into it. I don’t blame the fitters, I have seen them work close up. They really do their best. But often they are overworked and, of course the athmospheric conditions at the venue play their part. The table looked OK in the afternoon, but the crowd was nowhere as big as it was in the evening. That’s bound to change the level of humidity as well as the room temperature.
There was also a “as it happened” report by Eurosport:
NEIL ROBERTSON BEATS RONNIE O’SULLIVAN 6-3!
They get nervy at the end but it was no less enjoyable for that, Neil’s earlier brilliance getting him over the line. 4-1 was too big a deficit for Ronnie to surmount. Neil meets Barry Hawkins next.
O’SULLIVAN 3-5 ROBERTSON (38-43)
With one red left, Ronnie foul-misses trying to kiss it – it’s on the top cushion- but hits beautfully next go and Neil taps the table. “I do love the century breaks but when the frames are close like this…” says Ken like he’s never said that before.Neil then gets down to attack it along the top rail, misses … and Ronnie misses with a fiendishly tight and difficult cut. That might be curtains.
O’SULLIVAN 3-5 ROBERTSON (38-34)
Yeah, Neil wants away, an unbelievable top-spinning cue-ball sending the blue home and bringing him back for the next red – “He’s hit it too well,” muses Ken, and shonuff the cut-back red to right corner is missed. A reprieve for Ronnie!
O’SULLIVAN 3-5 ROBERTSON (38-15)
But screwing off pink and into pack, he sends the pot against the near middle knuckle! Goodness me, that was an oversight. And it may be Ronnie’s last contribution to this tournament.
O’SULLIVAN 3-5 ROBERTSON (38-1)
Neil drills home another trademark long red … and finishes on nowt yet again. To compound his woe, he leaves one to left corner that Ronnie bags, but on 18 he misses one left-handed to right corner, undercut. No matter: he soon lances a long one to right corner and off we go again.
O’SULLIVAN 3-5 ROBERTSON
Of the 19 frames I’ve seen today, that was the scrappiest and by far. But Neil won’t care because he’s one away from the next round.
O’SULLIVAN 3-4 ROBERTSON (25-65)
WHAAAT! A bit straight on a black, Neil hammers it … and it leaps out of the laws and onto the carpet! But Ronnie can’t capitalise, then Neil misses a simple red! The tension! This game! But Ronnie then finds a great pot to the yellow pocket … only to miss one to middle after a poor positional shot off the black. This is not something you see often … but this is something you see very often, Neil taking a long red. Ronnie returns to the table needing two snookers.
O’SULLIVAN 3-4 ROBERTSON (1-50)
No! Neil misses a red to left corner with the rest, leaves it over the pocket, and he’ll be fearing sanctions. But Ronnie doesn’t get great position on a colour so opts to play safe … and now he’s regretting it because there’s a ball cuttable to left corner! Surel;y Neil won’t spurn this opportunity?
O’SULLIVAN 3-4 ROBERTSON (0-18)
The quality hasn’t been as consistent as in the Hawkins-Bingtao match earlier – that was a classic – but it’s getting warm, and there’s time for plenty more. Again, we begin with some safety, which I guess tells us the break-offs have been good. But what’s this?! Looking to clip a red, Ronnie clunks the pink that’s partially hiding it, ceding not just six points but the table in its entirety. That may well cost the frame.
O’SULLIVAN 3-4 ROBERTSON
Ronnie clears up, and yeah, we got ourselves a ball-game.
O’SULLIVAN 2-4 ROBERTSON (70-33)
The top-cushion red wids up on the side and in baulk; trying to clip it, Ronnie’s side means he kisses the yellow en route! But this is getting dicey now, and Neil jawses a pot down the rail, then misses one to the green pocket, and by a distance. He’s not now where he’s been all night, and when Ronnie sends a red long to bottom right, it feels meaningful.
O’SULLIVAN 2-4 ROBERTSON (50-33)
Ahahahaha! “Very few reds in play”. Indeed. Ronnie quickly eases into the pack, builds a lead, and will now go for the last two reds, on top and and side cusion respectively. He misses the former, but it stays on the rail, so this frame is punkt in the balance.
O’SULLIVAN 2-4 ROBERTSON (5-33)
More luck for Ronnie! Sending the blue to the green pocket, Neil gets a bad contact, so here comes Ronnie – but with very few reds in play.
O’SULLIVAN 2-4 ROBERTSON (0-25)
Neil sends the white almost the full length of the tale to clip home an opener but, yet again, he’s unlucky to wind up on nowt. As I type that, though, he gets in again – you can’t be leaving a red sticking out while inviting him to apply hand to table. There’s work to be done, but even if Neil can’t complete it – and there’s a strong chance he can – he seems certain to rack up a useful lead.
O’SULLIVAN 2-4 ROBERTSON
That was so Ronnie. You don’t see him apologising when he benefits from good fortune, which I guess makes sense, else he’d be forever apologising for being as good as he is.
O’SULLIVAN 1-4 ROBERTSON (71-19)
Very quickly, Ronnie secures the frame, and is back in the match, a terrific red to right corner putting it beyond doubt. Might that fluke be a turning point?
O’SULLIVAN 1-4 ROBERTSON (31-19)
Ronnie leaves a red close to right corner and doesn’t cover it, but Neil can’t risk playing position so just makes sure of the pot, winding up on nowt. Then, finding it hard to work out a telling safety, Ronnie clatters a pot, misses to right corner … but hits to right centre! That’s his second wild fluke since the break, and he really needs to make this count; the crowd know it too, cheering a brilliant pot to left middle.
O’SULLIVAN 1-4 ROBERTSON (14-18)
Not for long! Ronnie leaves a mid-distance starter, and it’s despatched into right corner with unerring certainty. But playing off the blue and onto the side, aiming to separate two reds, he sticks to one and ends up in the only possible spot that prevents him continuing the run. This game.
O’SULLIVAN 1-4 ROBERTSON (14-12)
It’s going to cost him minimals! Neil overruns the white and can’t get through to the black, so we’re back playing safety.
O’SULLIVAN 1-4 ROBERTSON (14-11)
Eeesh, Neil clips home a decent starter but an unfelicitious kiss takes him into the pack, whre he nestles unable to see any colour – and with a red loose in baulk restricting his options. So he goes sie, top, side, seeking the black … and misses, so back he goes … to miss again. And this time, he leaves a starter into the middle, which Ronnie misses, overcutting into the near knuckle … then before going in-off! That is a colossal oversight, and it’s going to cost him.
O’SULLIVAN 1-4 ROBERTSON
Still no ton, but an 80 is ample, and Neil is just two frames from victory.
O’SULLIVAN 1-3 ROBERTSON (5-60)
Neil has been magnificent in the balls so far tonight, easing his way around the table with perfect control and rarely having to play a rescue-shot. Ronnie’s only missed that red to right corner in frame three, yet he’s staring down the barrel of 1-4.
O’SULLIVAN 1-3 ROBERTSON (5-9)
Eventually, Ronnie leaves a red to right corner and Neil creams it against the leather, then delicately strokes in a black, and he’s away.
O’SULLIVAN 1-3 ROBERTSON (0-0)
Ahahahaha, and as I type that he flukes a red, off the yellow and into the yellow pocket. But on nothing, he goes in behind the brown and forces Neil to play gently onto the topmost red, taking us into another safety exchange.
O’SULLIVAN 1-3 ROBERTSON (0-0)
Both men know this is a key frame. If Neil wins it, it’s almost over, but if Ronnie wins it it’s game on. We begin, again, with a safety exchange; so far, it’s been Ronnie losing patience first.
WE GO AGAIN
O’SULLIVAN 1-3 ROBERTSON
On 82, Neil misses a cut-back red to right corner, so another ton goes a-begging, but he wont mind, 3-1 up at the mid-sesh and in just 53 minutes. See you in 15 for more fun and frolics.
O’SULLIVAN 1-2 ROBERTSON
Oh my days, what a shot from Neil, potting the pink and sliding the white horizontally through a gap between two reds not much wider than a ball. Shortly afterwards, he sends another red to right centre, and this frame is near enogh over.
O’SULLIVAN 1-2 ROBERTSON (0-26)
Superb from Neil, sliding a red to right centre diagonally across the nap, and you fear for Ronnie because this is a man feeling himself on the final day of his 30s.
O’SULLIVAN 1-2 ROBERTSON
Yup, a run of 52, swiftly compiled, and suddenly it’s Ronnie not Neil cursing his carelessness. This game!
O’SULLIVAN 1-1 ROBERTSON (39-43)
Ronnie gets a cannon potting the black so is low on the next red … and he undercuts it! There’s work for Neil to do, but all the remaining balls are in decent positions, so you’d back him.
O’SULLIVAN 1-1 ROBERTSON (13-29)
WHAAAAAAT! Neil misses a cut-back black off its spot – was there a heavy contact? Well, the ball left the bed, and the glare Neil gives it suggests misbehaviour. For all that it matters, because Ronnie is at the table accumulating.
O’SULLIVAN 1-1 ROBERTSON (0-28)
Ronnie ettempts to end a safety exchange with a speculative red to the green pocket, but misses it and now sits watching as Neil takes advantage. There are a few loose reds, but they’re above the blue spot, so he’ll be into the pack soon enough … and there it is. The table looks nice now, and this looks a lot like 1-2.
O’SULLIVAN 1-1 ROBERTSON (0-8)
Ronnie misses a red to right middle and Neil takes one look at one down the top rail and sinks it beautifully. The black, though, causes him greater aggravation, caught thick and wobbled in; consequently, the cut to right corner that follows is harder, and he jawses it … but leaves nowt.
O’SULLIVAN 1-1 ROBERTSON
On 98, Ronnie misses a red to left corner, but just as Neil did in frame one, he pounces on a minor error and takes it away.
O’SULLIVAN 0-1 ROBERTSON (68-0)
It happens so quickly hen Ronnie’s at the table; one second it looks awkward, the next it’s eating out of his hand. I actually wonder if he’s got the edge in this matchup, because although he no longer has long-potting as devastating as Neil’s, he might have the edge inf the safety game and in the balls.
O’SULLIVAN 0-1 ROBERTSON (27-0)
This time it’s Ronnie who wins the safety exchange, Neil giving him a peek at a cut to left corner, sent down with prejudice. If Ronnie plays tonight at he played against Judd on Tuesday, he’ll be hard to stop, but he doesn’t string performances together quite like he once did, so who knows how this’ll shake out. But in the meantime, he’s done the difficult bit of this break, the table now at his mercy.
O’SULLIVAN 0-1 ROBERTSON
But he misses the next ball. No matter, a great start for the Thunder.
O’SULLIVAN 0-0 ROBERTSON (0-79)
Neil loves a ton, and on 79, he sinks a great pink to keep it going.
O’SULLIVAN 0-0 ROBERTSON (0-41)
Neil removes balls from baulk, amassing a small lead, then works his way up the table, the chance looking like a frame-winner. He’s nicely grooved – well we knew he was because he got by Kyren Wilson in round one, though he didn’t play that well. I think he made a ton at the start of that one too, but there’s a different look about him tonight.
O’SULLIVAN 0-0 ROBERTSON (0-8)
Neil misses a red to right corner but leaves nothing, and very quickly four reds find themselves in baulk. It’s pretty tense out there, and Ronnie contemplates having a hack at one poked to middle, white close to black cush. But he eschews, only to allow Neil a starter.
THE BAIZE IS BOYZED
Here they come, with a gorgeous rolled R on Ronnie from or compere.