Robertson has won four titles this season, but falls at the second round stage this time
Jack Lisowski scored the best win of his career as he reached the quarter-finals of the Betfred World Championship for the first time with an enthralling 13-12 victory over pre-tournament favourite Neil Robertson.
Australia’s Robertson earned a piece of Crucible history when he became the eighth player to make a 147 at the venue, but the night ended in disappointment for this season’s best player. It’s the eighth consecutive year in which Robertson has failed to reach the semi-finals.
For Lisowski, the result is a huge confidence boost, as he rallied from 12-11 down to win the last two frames of the first match in this year’s Championship to go to a decider. In a dramatic finish, both players missed chances in the last frame before world number 14 Lisowski took his opportunity.
His reward is a match with four-time champion John Higgins which starts on Tuesday at 2.30pm. Their only previous Crucible meeting came in the second round 2018 when Higgins dismantled his opponent by a 13-1 scoreline. But Gloucestershire’s 30-year-old Lisowski is now made of sterner stuff, as he proved tonight by keeping his composure at the crucial moments.
Leading 9-7, Lisowski made a strong start to the concluding session as a break of 49 gave him the first frame to extend his lead. The next came down to a tactical battle on the last red, and a weak safety from Lisowski handed his opponent the chance to pot the red to a centre pocket and clear for 10-8.
Robertson’s magnificent 147 came in frame 19, and he followed up with a run of 79 in the 20th to square the match at 10-10. Lisowski led 15-14 in frame 21 when his attempted red to centre his the far jaw, and again Robertson punished him with a run of 60 to go in front for the first time since he led 2-1.
Having lost four consecutive frames, Lisowski hit back with a break of 88 for 11-11. In frame 23, Robertson led 32-21 when he made a safety error, handing Lisowski a chance to clear. He got as far as the final green, but rattled it in the jaws of a baulk corner, and Robertson took advantage to edge ahead. World number three Robertson, the 2010 champion, might have clinched the result in the 24th, but ran out of position on 55 and had to play safe. Lisowski cleared superbly with 72 for 12-12.
The key moment in the decider came when Lisowski, leading 36-18 with three reds on the table, trapped his opponent in a tough snooker behind the brown. Robertson escaped but left a red over a top corner, and Lisowski added a match-winning 25.
“It’s my biggest win because Neil is the best player in the world at the moment,” said Lisowski, who has reached six ranking finals but is yet to win a title. “He threw at lot at me over the match. It’s a massive win for me, I feel great. I was pretty gone when he made his beautiful 147 and got back to 10-10. Everything was spinning.
“I felt good on the break to go 12-12. In the last frame we both made mistakes. When the last red went in I got a brilliant reaction from the crowd. It was so loud it shook me, I nearly jumped. It was a great night for the fans, a big advert for snooker and it was amazing to be part of it. Everyone likes the underdog, and I was definitely that. I’m probably the underdog in the tournament now. The crowd have given me a real boost.
“The goal at the start of the week was to make the quarters because I had never done that before. Now the goal is to win the thing. Having beaten the best player in the world, there’s no reason why I can’t. Higgins will be just as hard. I will give it everything I have got, play with a good spirit and a lot of heart.”
Robertson said: “It was an incredible match played in the right way, we both kept going for our shots and I have nothing but praise for Jack, he handled himself well. People have played far worse than I did and got through the last 16. Jack just played the absolute match of his life.
“To make the 147 was unbelievable and tops the season off because that is on everyone’s bucket list, to make a maximum at the Crucible. Once I split the reds I knew I had a chance. The tension was building, so to clear the colours without much stress, then get the cheer from the crowd, it was absolutely fantastic. As a kid you just want to have those kind of moments.
“My mum was in the crowd, and she was buzzing about it. She’ll probably be more disappointed than me about the result, but at least she got to see something special. I have won four big titles this season, it has been a dream.”