Neil Robertson was Phil Haigh’s and Nick Metcalfe’s guest on their “Talking Snooker” podcast recently. It was a mammoth “episode” as they chatted for three hours! You will find the link to that piece below.
Neil Robertson hoping to learn from Ronnie O’Sullivan in new snooker season
Neil Robertson told the Talking Snooker Podcast that he hopes to learn from Ronnie O’Sullivan’s latest World Championship success as he prepares for the World Mixed Doubles and beyond.
Robertson was named World Snooker Tour’s Player of the Year for the 2021/2022 season, having won four major titles, but the Australian is still keen to learn from the best as the new season picks up pace after a slow start.
After defeat in the last-16 in Sheffield ended what was an otherwise glittering campaign, Robertson admitted to having watched O’Sullivan closely as he marched to a seventh Crucible crown – picking up pointers for next year’s World Championship and more immediately, the coming weeks of the new season.
Robertson told Talking Snooker in a special podcast produced in association with Sporting Life: “I watched Ronnie closely in the World Championship. I noticed how easily he was winning sessions and matches, even though he wasn’t playing that well.
“I actually don’t think he played that well, but he controlled the matches, he was more composed, and he created chances easily.
“I found that interesting, and I’m hoping to take some of the things I learned from watching him at his year’s World Championship to carry into this season, and especially when it comes to Sheffield.“
Mixed Doubles no longer a formality
Before that, Robertson has the small matter of defending titles such as the Masters and Tour Championship, as well as the World Mixed Doubles where he will partner Mink Nutcharut at the end of this month.
The event will be televised live on ITV as part of their growing commitment to snooker, and Robertson is already looking forward to the challenge.
Robertson said: “I don’t think it’s been held officially on television for a very long time.
“It has been held before. It was held in my old snooker club in Cambridge, and it seemed to be that whoever was partnered with Reanne [Evans] would win it.
“I had that opportunity to play with her once and we won it, which was great. There was a lot of tactics involved in terms of who followed who, but with Reanne, who was head and shoulders above the other players, you couldn’t really rely on the order of play.
“If you were partnered with Reanne it was two heavy scorers following whoever were to miss or make a mistake.
“But you look at women’s snooker and how much it’s progressed over the last five or six years, where the women’s players are winning matches on the tour and competing in a lot of matches, and all the players involved are going to be really competitive – which is what you want to see for an event like this.
“I’m very excited to be partnered with her [Mink] because it was a couple of years ago that she made that 147 recorded on video, and I’ve seen her play since. She beat Mitchell Mann a couple of weeks ago, so she’s a really good player.
“It’s great to see the younger female younger players coming along. It’s very exciting. I hope the format is really good and it gets the exposure it deserves.“
After the World Mixed Doubles, Robertson, O’Sullivan and six more of snooker’s biggest stars will head to Hong Kong for the valuable Hong Kong Masters.
Robertson has fond memories of the event, having won the last edition of the tournament in 2017 by beating O’Sullivan 6-3 in the final.
He added: “It will be the first time going back to Asia since the pandemic.
“All the players involved in Hong Kong are really excited to get back out there and start playing snooker in other countries, which is a big part of why we play – to play in different cultures and in front of different sets of fans.
“I remember the last time the tournament was held when I won it. I played Ronnie in the final in front of 3,000 people and they clapped for almost every single shot – it was just amazing.
“I hear the venue this year is also going to be fantastic, so I’m just really looking forward to getting out there and experiencing that. If it’s anything like last time, it’s going to be an amazing experience for all the players involved.”
‘History doesn’t wait for anybody’
Upon returning from Hong Kong, the season finally kicks into gear following an unusually quiet period in the calendar and Robertson is hoping to maintain the sort of success that has seen him become one of the modern-day greats of the sport.
Robertson concluded: “I just try to improve. At the end of every season I think ‘what could I have done better, or what did players maybe try to exploit?’ because players are trying to work me out more than I’m trying to work them out.
“Players are trying to stop me from playing – which is a good thing because that’s what you want, you want your opponents to have to think about how they’re going to stop you from playing.
“I need to find ways where they can’t find any chinks in my armour and in terms of goals, just make my opponents work harder for their chances and try and win as much as I can.
“Try to improve, because this sport is about improving. I want to win more tournaments, of course, but however many more tournaments I win until I retire isn’t really going to change much in how I’m regarded as a player.
“While I’m at an age where I can keep improving, keep improving, because there will become a time where I will start getting worse at the game – history tells you that. History doesn’t wait for anybody.“
In other parts of the podcast, Neil speaks about his wife mental health struggles and how Ronnie helped them.
He was also one of the first to express his support to the guaranteed prize money scheme. Of course he would: he once was a expat teenager, away from his family, with no money and a very “raw” game that needed improvement. He knows what some players go through and he understands fully how this will help them.