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Dale Hands Robertson Double Blow

Dominic Dale scored one of his best results of recent years as he shocked Neil Robertson 4-0 in the second round of the BetVictor Welsh Open, ending the Australian’s chances of qualifying for next week’s Players Championship.

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Robertson came into this week 18th on the one-year ranking list and potentially needing a deep run to climb into the top 16, but today’s defeat means he won’t be in Wolverhampton to defend a title he won a year ago. It has been a disappointing season so far for the player who captured four titles in 2021/22. This term he is yet to reach a ranking final.

The world number four scored just 35 points in the first three frames today as Dale took control, making breaks of 71 and 56. Robertson had a chance to pull one back but his hopes ended when he missed the black off its spot at 29-42 in frame four.

“You have to give all credit to Dominic, he played incredibly well today,” said Robertson. “It doesn’t mean anything (to miss the Players Championship). I have won 30 major tournaments in my career. It doesn’t impact my preparation for the next event. It means I can have more time on the practice table and watch (son) Alexander’s football over the weekend.”

Dale, who reached the semi-finals of the recent BetVictor Shoot Out, said: “You have to put the top players under pressure and today I managed to do that. It’s easy to get hammered and look like an idiot when you play someone like Neil. I have always been a bit of a showman and natural exhibitionist and if you can’t perform in front of an audience like this then you are not cut out for sport.

“At the end of the match I shook his hand because I’m a big friend of Neil, I love his style of play and I said to him ‘never forget what a fantastic player you are’ because I know he’s not getting the results he wants at the moment, there is just two or three percent of his game he needs to find and he’ll get back to winning tournaments.

“This is a fantastic event and I’d love to see it come back to North Wales, maybe to that other place called Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch!”

Ronnie O’Sullivan narrowly avoided another upset as he beat amateur Ross Muir 4-3 in an incident-packed contest. World Champion O’Sullivan opened with a run of 108 but his cue tip came off at the end of that break, and again during the second frame, each time requiring a 15-minute interval for the tip to be repaired. Scotland’s Muir then went 2-1 ahead, before runs of 58 and 78 restored O’Sullivan’s lead at 3-2.

Early in frame six, O’Sullivan twice missed the reds when playing safe, and was warned by referee Luise Kraatz that another foul would lose him the frame, under the three misses rule. He slashed wildly at the pack, hit the pink first and sent the cue ball off the table, leaving the score at 3-3. But the world number one then dominated the decider with breaks of 23 and 42 to earn a meeting with Rod Lawler.

O’Sullivan said: “I don’t know why the tip fell off, but after the second time it was always in the back of my mind on every shot, that it could come off again. What excites me now is winning the battle. Every player goes through the emotions, ups and down. It’s how you deal with them. If you want to win tournaments and have a successful career you have to learn how to be resilient, battle hardened and know how to stay in the match sometimes.”

Asked about the incident in the sixth frame, he added: “I didn’t see another shot. I was snookered on virtually every ball. I could have tried to come off two cushions but if I had missed the reds it was end of frame. Or I could try to get a fluke, so I tried that but hit the pink.”

Lawler made a tremendous 73 clearance in the deciding frame to score a 4-3 win over Matthew Stevens, who was unlucky not to land on a red when he split the pack at 59-0.

Defending champion Joe Perry won his ninth consecutive match in this event, beating Mark Joyce 4-1 with top breaks of 107 and 92. Luca Brecel top scored with 100 in a 4-0 win over Elliot Slessor while Cao Yupeng enjoyed a whitewash victory over Ding Junhui in a Chinese derby.