Bahrain Championship: Robertson wins epic finale!

Australia’s Neil Robertson captured the third ranking event title of his career tonight as he defeated Matthew Stevens 9-7 to win the Bahrain Championship. Click below to read how the final session unfolded…

Neil Robertson 9-7 Matthew Stevens

After six hours and seven minutes of play, Neil Robertson became the inaugural Bahrain Champion after a night of tension and high drama in the Middle East.

Resuming at just 4-3 following an afternoon session that Robertson in truth dominated, Neil set about making up for it with a nice break of 63 to go 51 up with 51 on the table. Though Matthew got back in and looked like forcing a respot, he eventually missed the final black and a relieved Robertson knocked it in for 5-3.

Neil though still wasn’t completely settled and as he confirmed in his post-match interview, was disappointed at not having taken advantage of his form in the first session. Matthew found some form and brought himself level for the first time in the match with a couple of steady frames as Neil began to look very nervous. He recovered to take frame 11 though after Stevens fouled the pink and importantly for him, steadied the ship going into the mid-session interval with a 6-5 lead.

When the play resumed though it was Matthew who came out firing, making his first century of the match to bring himself level again.

The next frame though was the most dramatic of the entire match as Stevens looked good for a 7-6 lead, but with Robertson needing two snookers gave him one back by snookering himself with the blue, before an extroadinary 35 minute battle followed as Robertson sought to get the other. After all sorts of twists and turns it was Stevens who hung on and took the balls he needed to lead the match for the first time and it looked like this would be the turning point in the match.

Little were we to know however that the real turning point would come in frame 14 as Stevens looked certain to go 8-6 up. As it was though, a poor positional shot on the final pink meant that he could not get nicely on the final black on the side-cushion. In a way not too dissimilar to Steve Davis in THAT world final, he overcut it back into the same blind pocket, and as Neil Robertson knocked it in for 7-7, must have been gutted.

By this point it was midnight local time and after five and a half hours play, both were shattered and could barely pot a ball! It was really tight stuff but eventually it was Neil who after a few misses, managed to put together a very well taken break of 53 that eventually proved to be enough.

After all what had gone before it looked like the match was destined for a decider, but following a long period of safety as both players sent the reds up into baulk, it was Matthew who made the first mistake as he left a red hanging over the right-centre pocket. He took his time as he made absolutely sure of every shot, but he eventually made enough to clinch the match and as the clock approached 1am, his third ranking title.

It was a great final, full of tension, drama, twists and turns and in my book probably the best since last year’s China Open between Stephen Maguire and Shaun Murphy. Hopefully the UK’s will be just as good next month!

This is a fantastic result for Neil who in the last 18 months has struggled a bit, but if he can keep playing like he has this week, will be hard to beat for the rest of the season. Coming into the event ranked 21 provisionally, he should now move back into the top 16 where he belongs which is great for snooker and more to the point is great for him!

For Matthew I make that six ranking event final defeats out of seven now and he will be gutted to have lost out given how he played to make it 7-6. Still though it has been a good week on the whole and like Neil, he will rocket up the provisional rankings now and is back in contention for a position in the top 16 again after two seasons away. The most important thing for him though will be managing to play like he has this week back in the qualifiers at Prestatyn where he has struggled so much this season.


Matthew Stevens 7-9 Neil Robertson
First Session: 0-129(129), 13-117(117), 4-108(96), 69(34,35)-68(68), 1-75(75), 82(51)-22, 75(70)-0
Second Session: 56(44)-70(63), 67-47(39), 115(71)-0, 32-64, 110(110)-5, 73-48, 61-64, 1-96(53,39), 8-77