Neil Robertson beat Ronnie O’Sullivan 6-5 in one of the standout matches of the season so far to book his place in the final of the ManBetX Champion of Champions at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry.
It is the second time 2015 champion Robertson has reached the tournament final but the first time in six appearances that O’Sullivan hasn’t.
In a gripping match played in front of a sold out crowd, there was never more than one frame between the two players. At 4-4 the ninth went down to the final black and a brilliant pot sent O’Sullivan one up with two to play.
Robertson, however, responded in style with the tournament’s highest break so far, a fine 135 made under pressure. In the decider, O’Sullivan made a safety error as the cue stopped short of the pack, leaving a red on for Robertson, who made a clearance of 90 to win a compelling match of the highest standard.
“I was extremely determined today, concentrated on my own game and made sure I was going to be very aggressive,” said Robertson, who will face either Judd Trump or Mark Allen in Sunday’s best-of-19 final.
“We have a huge amount of respect for each other. Ronnie has got the better of me the last few times we have played, and in a couple of big finals obviously. You don’t want to make a habit of losing to somebody, even though a few of the times I have lost to him he has played fantastic stuff.
“There was a lot of high scoring, some great potting, a couple of close frames. The crowd were great and I am sure they really enjoyed the match. It was an awesome match to be a part of. We were both extremely aggressive, neither of us backed down and that’s what makes it most pleasing; I beat him my own way, playing my natural style.
“Judd and Mark are both brilliant players, I have had some wonderful matches with them and it will be two lefties in the final. I can’t wait to get out there and play in another final.”
Featuring tournament winners from the previous 12 months, the ManBetX Champion of Champions is broadcast live on ITV4 and has become one of snooker’s biggest tournaments since launching at Ricoh Arena in 2013. The likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan, John Higgins and Shaun Murphy have all lifted the trophy. The winner will take home £150,000 from a prize fund of £440,000.
Ronnie O’Sullivan 5–6 Neil Robertson
73-7 (66), 40-67, 1-71 (62), 81-7 (81), 0-108 (108), 81-55, 45-87 (87), 86-0 (86), 60-57, 0-135 (135), 6-104 (90)