Neil Robertson explained the debt of thanks he owes to fiancée Mille after beating Joe Perry 5-1 to reach the semi-finals of the Coral World Grand Prix.
Kyren Wilson edged out John Higgins 5-4 and will meet Robertson in the semis in Cheltenham on Saturday evening (tickets still available, click here for details).
Australia’s Robertson has been in tremendous form in recent weeks, winning 16 of his last 17 matches in a ranking events, a run which has given him the European Masters title.
In 2017 he revealed that Mille, his long term partner and mother of their children Alexander and Penelope, had been suffering from anxiety and depression for two years. Her health has since improved, and Robertson himself feels that more stability in his family life has helped him to succeed in his career on the baize.
“As a family we had well documented issues away from the table. I wouldn’t be in this position now if it wasn’t for Mille,” said the 37-year-old. “I’m really motivated to do it for her. When I get home I can’t complain about being tired because I’m playing a lot of matches as she is looking after Penelope who is only sleeping four hours a night – if I did she’d probably kick me out!
“The happiness away from the table is key. I can go to tournaments and know that everything is good at home, and that makes a big difference. That’s one of the challenges for players with families, there are factors away from snooker to take into account.”
In today’s contest between two close friends, Perry took the opening frame with an excellent 62 clearance, but from that point Robertson dominated. Runs of 47 and 40 gave him the second frame than an 86 put him 2-1 up. A superb 140 total clearance in the fourth extended his advantage and made him the new front runner for the £10,000 high break prize.
Frame five came down to a safety exchange on the blue, which went in Robertson’s favour as he moved 4-1 in front. And breaks of 31 and 41 in the sixth saw him into his 39th ranking event semi-final.
“I was having one of those days where I was going for any long balls and they were going in,” he added. “When that’s happening I feel fantastic about my game. I don’t think Joe did much wrong, other than perhaps miss the chance to go 3-2. I’m not thinking much about winning, I’m just going out there and playing, and I believe my best is good enough.”
Wilson followed up yesterday’s win over Judd Trump with a hard-fought victory over Higgins which lasted three hours and 52 minutes. It’s his first win over Higgins in a ranking event and the Warrior is through to his first ranking semi-final since October’s World Open.
Kettering’s Wilson made the bigger breaks today, compiling runs of 64, 89 and 74, but found himself 4-3 down as Higgins got the better of the fragmented frames. But four-time World Champion Higgins missed chances to seal victory in frame eight and Wilson eventually took it thanks to an excellent long pot on the last red.
In the decider, runs of 25 and 37 gave Wilson a 62-0 lead, then Wishaw’s Higgins had a chance to counter but made just 17 before missing a tricky red to a centre pocket. He later got two of the three snookers he needed, only for Wilson to pot the brown to remain on course for a fourth career ranking title.
“It’s one of the best wins of my career, not in terms of the performance but because of the stature of my opponent, he is one of the all-time greats,” said 28-year-old Wilson. “John and Mark Selby are the two players you don’t want coming at you when they need snookers in the deciding frame. I felt like I was in snookers for about half an hour. John sticks in there right until the end even when it looks like he is beaten.
“I wasn’t showing much form coming into this tournament. I have just been trying to enjoy it this week, having a bit of fun with the crowd, not thinking too much and trying to play the balls as I see them.”
A disappointed Higgins said: “The top players would have closed that match out. For the last couple of years I haven’t been one of the top players so that’s what happens. When I had the chance in the last frame I fancied clearing up but I played a terrible positional shot from pink to red, with a bit of adrenaline going I nipped into the white too much.”