Robertson Joins Crucible Casualties
Neil Robertson became the sixth seeded player to be knocked out of the Betfred World Championship in the first round as he went down 10-5 against Robert Milkins.
Robertson joins Mark Selby, Stuart Bingham, Shaun Murphy, Marco Fu and Luca Brecel as the top 16-ranked players to exit the tournament within the first five days. It’s the second time he has lost to world number 37 Milkins at the Crucible, having done so in 2013.
World number ten Robertson has won two titles this season – the Scottish Open and Hong Kong Masters – but has failed to make an impact on the Triple Crown events, losing in the last 32 of the World and UK Championship and not even qualifying for the Masters.
Gloucester’s Milkins is through to the last 16 in Sheffield for the third time and will now face Mark Williams.
Robertson, the 2010 World Champion, trailed 6-3 overnight but took a 48-minute opening frame today by potting pink and black then won the next to close to 6-5. The Australian had first chance in frame 12 but could only make 8 and his opponent compiled runs of 48 and 36 to go 7-5 ahead.
That proved the turning point as 42-year-old Milkins dominated the next three frames, knocking in breaks of 69, 55 and 54.
“I played really well, I put a lot of pressure on Neil,” said Milkins. “It was looking at bit dodgy when he got it back to 6-5, but I nicked a frame and got spurred on, I saw the match out well.
“The qualifiers have all had match practice and we’re sharp. I’ve got better every match I’ve played. It puts me in good stead for taking on Mark Williams. We are used to playing these seeded players more now because there are more tournaments. I’ve played Neil loads of times and I’ve beaten him already this year, so there’s no fear.
“I can only speak for myself, but I fear Ronnie! The first thing I looked at was which side of the draw he was in. Everyone knows they can beat Ronnie, I know I can but can I do it out there? To do it over that amount of frames it’s going to be very tough for anybody to beat him. If I do play him I want to play him in the quarter-finals not in the first round.”
Robertson said: “I had bad problems with my cue tip heading into the match, that was pretty evident last night. Rob played so well that he never allowed me to recover from that.
“I put on a new tip this morning and had an hour with it and it was alright, but going out there is completely different. But I’ve got to give Rob credit for how well he played, he was relentless throughout. I had a slight sniff at 6-5 but he rattled off the last four frames amazingly well.
“Long gone are the days where there are shocks in the first round. If I was a qualifier, unless I drew Ronnie O’Sullivan, I’d be quite happy to play anybody knowing I’ve won three matches in a week, against someone coming in cold. Rob came here with nothing to lose. He walks out to the cider drinker song and the crowd goes nuts. He has approached it the right way.
“Ten years ago there would probably be only two or three banana skins in the draw, now there are a lot more. It’s good for the game to have more players coming through, and not to have them crumble.
“For me to come away with two big trophies after a tough season away from the table, I’m pretty happy with that. I’m just disappointed not to have had a good run here as well.”
On the other table, world number four Judd Trump built a 6-3 lead over Chris Wakelin.
The highlight of the session was a superb 141 total clearance from Crucible debutant Wakelin in the fifth frame, the new front-runner for the £10,000 high break prize. He also compiled runs of 95 and 69 in a high quality session, while Trump knocked in 58, 64, 72 and 51.
They play to a finish on Thursday from 7pm.