Neil Robertson continued his miracle year by winning the 12BET.com World Open with a 5-1 victory over Ronnie O’Sullivan at the SECC in Glasgow.
The Australian played superbly to score an emphatic defeat of O’Sullivan and add this new title to his Betfred.com World Championship crown, and the official World No 1 ranking.
It’s Robertson’s sixth ranking title – keeping up his 100 per cent record in finals – and his third on Scottish soil having won the Grand Prix in Aberdeen in 2006 and in Glasgow last year. He goes home with a cheque for £100,000 and another boost to confidence levels which were already stratospheric following his Crucible conquest last May.
The gifted left-hander from Melbourne, who lives in Cambridge, has made the step up from rising star to world beater this year, and his fast start to the season suggests that his form will not be adversely affected by the arrival of his first child – a son called Alexander who was born to girlfriend Mille four months ago.
The 28-year-old moves level with Ken Doherty on the all-time list of ranking event winners, with only eight players ahead of him: Stephen Hendry (36), Steve Davis (28), O’Sullivan (22), John Higgins (20), Mark Williams (17), Jimmy White (10), John Parrott (9) and Peter Ebdon (8).
This quickfire format suited O’Sullivan perfectly as he was able to play in short bursts, without time for frustration to set in. But tonight he struggled to get his teeth into the match and was soundly outplayed. His consolation is a cheque for £40,000 and a climb of two places in the rankings to fourth.
The Rocket had the first clear chance in the opening frame but was unlucky to go in-off on 43. Robertson made 43 before running out of position on the green, but laid a snooker and from the subsequent chance secured the frame. An excellent 107 put him 2-0 ahead.
Frame three saw O’Sullivan make a break of 72 which was every bit as good as his 147 earlier in the week, picking the balls off with a series of imaginative and perfectly executed positional shots. He had a chance in the next but missed an easy pink at 15-14 and Robertson capitalised with 59 to go 3-1 ahead at the interval.
A missed red from O’Sullivan to a centre pocket at the start of the fifth let his opponent in for a run off 66 to go three up with four to play. Robertson made 30 in the next before missing a tough blue, O’Sullivan responding with 44 only to rattle the penultimate red. The Englishman then blundered a safety shot, going in-off and setting up Robertson to clear to the pink and clinch the trophy.
“Ronnie’s still my idol, whenever I get knocked out of a tournament I hope he wins it,” said Thunder From Down Under Robertson. “I put him under pressure tonight and made some good breaks out of nothing, particularly the century in the second frame. There were some texts flying around before the final saying that this would be the one I would lose, and that fired me up.
“I’d only had a week and a half of really good practice before this because I’ve been so busy. I didn’t expect to play well until the UK Championship. I’ve won four BBC tournaments now, so my goals are to win the UK and the Masters and to do better in China. Having a title under my belt early in the season gives me the confidence to go on and win more.”
Three-times World Champion O’Sullivan said: “I’m always critical of myself but I have to give Neil credit, I take my hat off to him. He’s playing like a World Champion and World No 1. He’s a consistently great cueist, he’s confident and good under pressure. When John Higgins comes back they will have a good rivalry.
“I knew someone playing half as well as that would beat me, I was there for the taking and I shouldn’t have got to the final. I hit so many bad shots and my good breaks are few and far between.”