Neil Robertson produced a blistering display to brush Iranian Hossein Vafaei aside 6-0 and reach the final of the ManBetX Welsh Open at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff.
Australia’s Robertson is through to his third Welsh Open final. He dramatically won the title in 2007, defeating Andrew Higginson 9-8 to claim silverware and lost out in the 2016 final against Ronnie O’Sullivan. The Thunder from Down Under now faces Englishman Stuart Bingham in tomorrow’s showpiece match for £70,000 and the Ray Reardon Trophy. They will do battle over the best of 17 frames, with the first session starting at 1pm.
This week has already been an eventful one for the 14-time ranking event winner. He fired in the fourth 147 break of his career in the opening round against Jordan Brown. Last night, Robertson survived a scare in the quarter-finals, coming from 4-2 down to defeat Kurt Maflin 5-4. This evening’s match was a more one-sided affair.
Vafaei, competing in his second ranking event semi-final, struggled to settle and produce his best snooker. His learning curve at this stage of major competition has been a steep one, having lost out to Mark Williams 6-1 in the last four of the 2017 China Open. Iran’s first ever professional player will have to wait a little while longer to reach his maiden ranking final. However, he does pick up £20,000 for reaching the semi-finals.
There was a clear gulf between the pair’s performances this evening, with 2010 Crucible king Robertson stamping his authority from the off. A fine century run of 103 got Robertson off to the perfect start. Further breaks of 61 and a sublime 140 moved him 4-0 up at the mid-session.
It was a swift kill when they returned, with Robertson needing under half an hour to wrap up the final two required frames and seal a whitewash victory.
Robertson said: “You never really expect to win so comfortably. Hossein had his chances in the first four frames. Every little mistake he made I punished fully. That is what you have to do. You can’t let the crowd get behind the underdog. I just kept applying the pressure.
“I feel at the top of my game. No doubt. I’m hitting the ball great and playing with a smile on my face. The goal is to go out there and entertain the crowd and make them go away thinking about what a great match they have seen.
“Stuart Bingham is more than capable of crushing anyone on his day as well. He is such a heavy scorer. He plays the game very aggressively. We both play attacking snooker and hopefully I can get on top and have a good run and win convincingly. I’m also prepared for it being scrappy and can fight it out if need be as well.”