Neil Robertson converted a fantastic long pot on the final blue in the deciding frame to win an exciting battle with Yan Bingtao 5-4 in the quarter-finals of the Cazoo World Grand Prix.
In a meeting of two of snooker’s all-time greats, Robertson will face Mark Selby on Friday evening in the semi-finals at the Coventry Building Society Arena. Selby came through a Leicester derby against Tom Ford by a 5-2 scoreline as the World Champion continued his best run of the season so far.
Australia’s Robertson landed this title in 2020 and is just two wins away from the £100,000 top prize, and his second title of the season having captured the BetVictor English Open.
His first six frames against Yan were shared 3-3, both players scoring heavily as Robertson made breaks of 72, 117 and 66 while China’s Yan replied with 54, 69, 59 and 87. Masters champion Yan edged ahead before Robertson got the better of frame eight for 4-4.
In the decider, Yan made 43 before missing a mid-range red to a top corner, and Robertson’s reply was on 59 when he left the last red in the jaws of other other top pocket while playing with the rest. Yan’s attempted clearance ended when he ran out of position on the blue, which led to a long tactical exchange. When Robertson was left with a thin cut on the blue to a top corner from distance, he went for it full-blooded and found his target, before dropping the pink into a centre pocket.
“It was a super-thin cut on the blue, but I felt that having been so far behind in the last frame, it was definitely best to go for it, ” said the world number four. “It was virtually impossible to over-cut it so I almost aimed to over-cut it, and hit it perfectly. I’m glad I finished dead straight on the pink.
“Yan played a brilliant match and put me in so much trouble, he shows maturity beyond his years. Probably the only thing he could improve would be consistently controlling the cue ball. Once he sorts that out he is going to be incredibly tough to stop. He has got so much patience and a beautiful cue action, he never looks like missing. I am always impressed when I watch him play. He has every chance of being a World Champion.
“Mark will have vengeance on his mind because I beat him a few times last season. I love playing him and he is a great friend off the table. I’ll go for my shots and see what happens.”
Selby came into this week short of confidence having failed to progress beyond the last 16 of any event this season, but his form has been much improved in wins over Barry Hawkins, Mark Allen and Ford.
After losing the opening frame, Selby took a 3-1 lead with runs of 58, 74 and 104. Frame five came down to the colours and Ford laid an excellent snooker on the brown, then cleared from the chance that followed to halve the gap.
The sixth lasted 50 minutes and went Selby’s way for 4-2, and the world number one soon rounded off the tie with a run of 93.