World number three Neil Robertson eased to an impressive 10-3 defeat of Liang Wenbo at the Betfred World Championship.
The Australian came into this week in red hot form after blitzing his way to winning the recent Cazoo Tour Championship, beating Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-4 in the final to land a 20th ranking title.
Robertson was handed a huge boost ahead of that victory after he was reunited with his father Ian, who was given special dispensation to fly to Britain from Australia. It was a reunion which was nearly two years in the making due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Thunder from Down Under is aiming to capture a second Crucible crown this year. His only World Championship victory to date came in 2010, when he defeated Graeme Dott in the final. Since then Robertson has struggled to produce his best at the Theatre of Dreams, recording just one semi-final appearance back in 2014.
He stamped his authority in the opening session of this encounter, crafting five breaks over 50 on his way to establishing a 6-3 advantage.
Robertson came out firing this evening, making a superb century run of exactly 100 after depositing a long red from Liang’s break. He then won a tight 11th frame, before swiftly closing out the tie with breaks of 110 and 73 to wrap up the 10-3 victory. Robertson now faces a tough second round encounter against either Jack Lisowski or Ali Carter.
“I’m quite excited that the more we can go on in the tournament, the more crowds can be allowed in as well. I thought the crowd were really good, even though they were reduced. The Crucible crowd always feels three or four times bigger than the actual capacity,” said 39-year-old Robertson. “I’m very relieved that everything has gone ahead with the Government re-opening and that we could get the crowds in. I think they have seen some excellent snooker over the last couple of days. I’m very happy for the people who have committed to the sport and gone into the arena out there.
“It had been a long time not seeing my family from Australia, nearly two years. My dad came over before the Tour Championship and gave me a massive boost. Alexander my son was so happy as well. Penelope my daughter didn’t even recognise him, it is really sad that he hadn’t seen her for so long. It is great that he is able to enjoy being with her and that he can take Alexander to his footy training. He can give me feedback on the training as well so I don’t feel like I’m missing out on too much.
“Over the last seven or eight years, in probably five of those I’ve blitzed through the first two rounds and everyone has been putting my name on the trophy. I’ve maybe relaxed a little bit, expected to win and thought that my opponent couldn’t possibly beat me over 25 frames. Coming here, I’m just ignoring all of that and playing the game on my terms. It is important I make players worry about playing me, rather than letting them dictate the pace of play.”