Neil Robertson overcame Stuart Bingham 9-7 in the final of the ManBetX Welsh Open at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff.
Victory for Robertson continues his purple patch against the 2015 World Champion. The Australian came into the match on an 11-frame streak against Bingham, having beaten him 6-0 and 5-0 in their previous two meetings at the 2018 China Open and 2019 German Masters respectively.
The £70,000 winner’s cheque has seen Robertson cross the £4 million barrier in career earnings. The Thunder from Down Under now moves up to eighth in the world rankings from tenth. It is a 15th career ranking title for the 37-year-old, who is now level with Mark Selby on ranking wins.
Bingham claimed this title two years ago by defeating Judd Trump in the 2017 final. However, that means he was defending the prize money won that week on the two-year rolling world rankings. As a result he now drops from 12th to 14th in the world and faces a battle to keep his top 16 spot ahead of the World Championship.
In a fragmented afternoon session, it was 2010 Crucible king Robertson who claimed the advantage coming out with a 5-3 lead. When they emerged for the evening’s action the Australian widened the gap.
Bingham spurned opportunities to take the opening frame, before missing a black off the spot which allowed Robertson to clear with a break of 65 to edge three ahead. He then moved even further in front after punishing a loose safety with a run of 56 to extend his lead to four at 7-3.
The Essex cueman kept himself in it by clinching an important 11th frame to make it 7-4. There was then a dramatic frame before the mid-session. Robertson failed to convert a frame ball brown to the top right pocket and inadvertently developed the blue from a safe position. Bingham cleared and clenched his fist having escaped with his hopes of a fightback still intact.
When they returned Bingham continued to push for parity and took a further two frames on the bounce to stun Robertson and level at 7-7. The Thunder from Down Under then won a tense 15th frame to move to the verge of victory at 8-7.
Robertson emphatically surged past the winning post in the following frame, depositing a long red and crafting a contribution of 83 to claim his second Welsh Open title, 12 years after his last win in 2007.
“When you hear it is 12 years later it certainly makes you feel old. It is an amazing feeling because Stuart’s safety throughout the whole match was unbelievable.” said Robertson.
“It is incredible to win. It is very satisfying when you blitz a final and play really well. However, it is more rewarding the way I had to fight throughout. I wasn’t at my best. I didn’t do a lot wrong, but I just hung in there. From 7-3 to 7-7 I had to dig really deep.
“I think I am definitely a player who is more than capable of being a multiple World Champion. I just need to play with a lot of positivity and play matches on my terms. That is probably the first match I’ve played in a long time where I have felt it wasn’t on my terms. I need to learn from that straight away and not let it happen again. You look at the World Championship winners in the last few years they have all won it playing their game. I need to develop my style better to make it more threatening for the 17 days of the World Championship.”
A disappointed Bingham rued the fact he didn’t manage to carry his strong form from the rest of the week into the showpiece match.
Bingham admitted: “I’m gutted really, I just didn’t show up today. I have been good all week and to not do it on the final day is disappointing. I had my chances. It isn’t like he blew me away. I tried to keep in it and got myself back to 7-7. All of a sudden I fancied the job.
“If someone had said before the tournament I’d get to the final I would probably have grabbed their hands off. I made 11 centuries this week. Even though I didn’t play great today, I had a fighting chance. That probably shows me where my game is. You can be a fraction out sometimes.”