Congratulations to Neil Robertson who has tonight defeated Shaun Murphy 10-6 to win his first Masters title and maintain his formidable record in professional finals. In doing so he becomes the 12th player to have lifted both the World Championship and Masters titles…
With the experts divided pre-match, the only thing that many would agree on is that the match would be close and early it appeared as though those forecasts would be correct as the opening four frames were shared, both recording century breaks after a typically edgy start in a major final.
Indeed of the two, Neil Robertson would probably have been the happier at the interval as Shaun Murphy looked the more steady early on, but as he has done all week it was the Australian who was proving the stronger in the scrappy frames and who would eventually emerge from the session with a two frame lead at 5-3.
Following a terrific reception from the crowd in the evening it was Shaun who again made the faster start, taking the opening frame thanks largely to an early break of 49.
From there however it was Neil who was to take the match by the throat, breaks of 101 and 76, the latter started with a terrific red to right-centre, enough to put him 8-4 up at the interval, before he moved from from victory with another 76 on their resumption.
With his back against the wall, Shaun responded in fantastic style, breaks of 52 and 86 enough to see him close the gap to 9-6 in little over 20 minutes and perhaps sew a couple of seeds of doubt in Neil’s mind.
Ultimately though it was not to be as Neil played a terrific 16th frame, an initial 70 break from a trademark long red enough to leave his opponent needing a snooker, before he got back in to clinch victory soon after.
Overall it was an excellent performance from Neil who demonstrated again that he is now very much the complete player. Shaun did not play badly today by any means, but Neil’s scoring, long-potting, safety and general match-play were all on another level today and he ran out a deserved winner.
Despite defeat it has also been a good week for Shaun who was as gracious as you would expect post-match, and if he can score as heavily as he has this week will continue to be a contender at tournaments this season. It was not quite enough today against an opponent as solid as Robertson, but he will be back.
All in all then, another positive tournament and another good venue on the snooker calendar as surely Alexandra Palace has now established itself as the Masters venue for the foreseeable future.
Still, no time to dwell on that, the action picks up immediately tomorrow with the resumption of the Championship League at Crondon Park, before the second Shootout begins on Friday evening!