Neil Robertson recorded his second successive whitewash victory to defeat Sam Craigie 6-0 and progress to the semi-finals of the XingPai China Open in Beijing.
The win comes one day on from Robertson’s 6-0 last 16 demolition of Lu Ning and the Australian has only dropped five frames so far this week in Beijing.
The world number seven is one of the form players on the World Snooker Tour. He’s the highest ranked player left in this week’s event and is aiming to reach a fourth consecutive final, having won the Welsh Open in February and been runner-up to Ronnie O’Sullivan at the Players Championship and Tour Championship. Robertson also won the season opening Riga Masters last July.
The Thunder from Down Under will face Luca Brecel in the semis on Saturday over the best of 19 frames. The stakes are high, with the tournament winner’s prize money standing at £225,000.
Although the overall result today was a one-sided one, Robertson was made to work in the early stages, taking the first two frames on the colours. A break of 80 then helped the 15-time ranking event winner into a 3-0 lead.
Robertson showed further battling qualities to claim a 44-minute fourth frame, before breaks of 52 and 115 helped him secure the whitewash victory.
Robertson said: “My confidence has never been higher going into the World Championship. Making the last three finals and another semi-final here. I obviously ran into Ronnie O’Sullivan in red hot form in the last couple of finals so that is extra motivation to try and win a third ranking title in a season, which I’ve never been able to do before.”
Brecel sealed his place in the semis with an equally impressive victory, defeating 1994 Masters champion Alan McManus 6-1.
The Belgian’s performance this week has secured his place in the world’s top 16 and as a result, qualification for the World Championship.
Such is the extent of the prize money on offer this week, world number 60 McManus could have edged into a Crucible spot by lifting the trophy on Sunday. He will now need to gain his place at the qualifiers next week. Now 16th placed David Gilbert can only be caught if Scott Donaldson or Ben Woollaston claim the title. They face each other later on today .
Brecel showcased his break building power today to surge to the win. He produced a sublime run of 139 to take the opening frame.
McManus hit back to level in the second, but from there Brecel didn’t look back. The Belgian Bullet fired in consecutive contributions of 130, 108, 59, 66 and 95 to secure an impressive win and set up a mouth watering semi-final meeting with Robertson.