The opening match of the 2013 Masters between defending champion Neil Robertson and 2011 winner Ding Junhui always had the look of a thriller about it, and so it proved as the Australian came back from 5-3 down to advance into the quarter-finals. There he will play Mark Allen, who also progressed with a 6-2 win against Mark Davis, despite an amusing foul with the extended rest…
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Earlier this season, Neil Robertson recovered from 2-0 down to defeat Ding Junhui 4-2 and book his place in the semi-finals of the Premier League and today he caused the Chinese number one further pain as he won the last three frames at the Alexandra Palace to continue the defence of his Masters title for at least one further round.
That Robertson would find himself needing to produce such a comeback appeared unlikely in the early stages of the match as he took the opening two frames, in particular dominating the safety exchanges as his opponent struggled to make an impact.
To his credit however, Ding responded strongly with breaks of 103 and 127 to draw level at 3-3, before he restricted Robertson to just 26 points in the next two frames, to need just one more at 5-3.
Having unexpectedly lost a 4-0 lead against Mark Selby at the recent UK Championship, it looked like being another surprising reverse for Robertson this afternoon, but this time he was to have the final word, levelling with breaks of 100 and 62, before taking the decider from Ding’s break-off with a brilliant 90.
Celebrating with a ‘you beauty!’ as the decisive red dropped into the left-centre pocket, the win obviously meant a lot and as he told World Snooker post-match:
“I absolutely unleashed the fury at the end there. I don’t know if Barry Hearn was watching that but he’d have probably enjoyed it. Federer, Djokovic and all those guys when they win a big point in tennis, Tiger Woods rolls in a 12 footer to win a major, they do it. You know, why not? It’s good for sport to see a lot of passion.
You can also read some interesting quotes at the Express, where he talks about the impact of a chat with a certain Stephen Hendry following his defeat to Mark Selby at the recent UK Championship, as well as the state of the table today.
Next up for Neil will be a clash with Mark Allen, who came through a high-quality encounter with fellow On Q Promotions player Mark Davis today to move into the last eight.
The high standard was set early on by Allen, as he opened with a total clearance of 136, before Davis countered with two of the next three to leave the scores level at the interval, both players with a pot success rate of 97%.
From there however, the match was dominated by Allen, notwithstanding this moment of hilarity with the extended rest, as he took the next four frames to close out a 6-2 win. Always at his best at snooker’s biggest events, Mark will be hoping for a good run at this event and if he can see off Robertson in the next round, will surely fancy his chances against anyone in the draw.
Next up, John Higgins v Ali Carter tomorrow afternoon, while Stephen Maguire takes on Graeme Dott in the evening session.