Neil Robertson and Mark Williams will go head to head in the quarter-finals of the Coral Players Championship, as they both came through their first round matches on Tuesday.
Robertson, in action for the first time since he won the Welsh Open in February, scored a 6-3 win over Joe Perry in Preston. The Melbourne native was content with his own performance, but less impressed by the Australian accent used by Ronnie O’Sullivan in his post-match interview on Monday night.
“Ronnie’s Aussie accent was way off, I don’t know what it was,” said Robertson. “You have to go deep into the bushes to find something like that back home. He could do with watching a bit more Chopper Read or some Aussie films to improve his accent.”
World number eight Robertson took a 5-2 lead over Perry with top breaks of 80, 107 and 101. Perry pulled one back and had chances in frame nine, crucially missing the final yellow when he looked set to make it 5-4. A relieved Robertson took advantage to seal victory.
“There were a couple of tactical frames but in the others I had some good breaks,” said Robertson. “Joe struggled a bit early on so I knew I had to get a good lead. It looked like going 5-4 in the end so I was pleased to finish it off.
“After the Welsh Open I had four or five days off to recharge the batteries. It’s a big part of the season coming up with massive tournaments, all at really good venues which is exciting, that’s what we play the game for.
“This event is the top 16 on the one year list so it’s the players in form, even more so than the Masters. A lot of the players in the field have won titles this season. It will be really tough to win. It’s fantastic to have best of 11 matches from the first round.”
On Thursday afternoon he’ll be up against Williams, who scored a 6-2 victory over Ali Carter. World Champion Williams has struggled to find his best form in recent months, admitting his dedication to practice has wavered. But breaks of 118, 131, 51, 70 and 79 today suggested he has regained his appetite, with the defence of his Crucible crown just a few weeks away.
Williams is close to guaranteeing a place at the Coral Tour Championship in Llandudno later this month which is only for the top eight players on the one-year ranking list – for more on that race click here.
“That’s probably the best I have played all season,” said the Welshman. “I felt good out there, I have been practising hard for the last few weeks and it showed. My break building was good, my safety was good and I enjoyed it.
“My main aim this season was to qualify for the Tour Championship, I am on the border of doing that now. I won a tournament at the start of the season (the Yushan World Open) which almost put me into Llandudno and that was my downfall because I haven’t played much since.”