Defending champion Neil Robertson held off a gutsy Mark Allen, having led 7-0, to emerge a 10-6 victor and earn his place in the semi-finals of the Cazoo Tour Championship in Llandudno.
Robertson is riding the crest of a wave at the moment and has enjoyed a superb season thus far. This week’s event hosts only the top eight players on this season’s one-year list and Robertson is the second seed, after winning ranking titles at the English Open and Cazoo Players Championship earlier in the campaign.
That left Robertson requiring just three frames this evening to close out the tie. However, his tenacious opponent typically refused to back down and surged back into contention when the final session got underway.
A run of 66 saw Allen take the first frame and he then closed to 7-3, before a dramatic 11th. Robertson cleared from the green to force a re-spot, but a loose shot left the black at Allen’s mercy over the left middle to deposit and make it 7-4.
Robertson crucially then won a 41-minute frame to regain breathing space at 8-4, although Allen remained undeterred. The Pistol reeled off two on the bounce, including a run of 70, to pile on the pressure at 8-6.
It was at that point 2010 World Champion Robertson summoned his best snooker, crafting back-to-back century runs of 121 and 130, to close out the 10-6 win.
Next up Robertson faces either Mark Williams or Ronnie O’Sullivan, who he defeated in last year’s final. The semi-final contest will be played out on Friday over the best of 19 frames.
“I’m very proud because Mark asked many questions of me tonight. I had many answers, but he had answers to those! His safety was incredible and shut me out,” said 40-year-old Robertson.
“The key is to be patient and to not lose your cool. I didn’t make any disastrous mistakes, I missed a couple of tricky balls and that was it. I am experienced enough to know things can turn around, but the most important thing is to be ready when that mistake comes.
“This evening provides more information than if I coasted through 10-1 tonight. The fact I came up with the goods when it really mattered sends a lot of positive signals to me, knowing I can withstand anything. I can put my foot down and run away and I can respond really strongly when someone comes back as well.”