Robertson and Selby To Face Off In York Final

They started the year with a final showdown at the Masters in January and tomorrow, Neil Robertson and Mark Selby will face off tomorrow in the final of the 2013 UK Championship in York.

Click below for my thoughts ahead of the match…

It has been a long haul, almost as long as the 17 day marathon of the mind at the World Championship each April, but tomorrow will see the final of the 2013 UK Championship take place, between the two players at the top of the ranking list.

Indeed, it is somewhat ironic that at the end of a tournament that has come under fire, in part for the new format which is designed to level the playing field and means that the top players have two extra matches to play, we have the world number one and the world number two in the final.

First man through yesterday was Neil Robertson, though not without a major scare as semi-final Stuart Bingham played near flawless snooker to fight back from 3-8 down to force a decider. Despite the distraction of an over-excited Dennis Taylor in the commentary box, it was Robertson who would eventually prevail, to keep alive his hopes of becoming just the eighth player in the game to have won snooker’s ‘triple crown’ of World Championship, UK Championship and Masters titles.

Today meanwhile, Mark Selby was far from at his best, but came through a comfortable 9-5 winner against Ricky Walden, who for whatever reason did not catch fire until he trailed by six frames at 2-8. He admitted after this match that he will have to play much better if he is to successfully defend his title against Robertson tomorrow, but as he showed with his magnificent maximum break during the seventh frame of his match today, he is more than capable of doing so.

Indeed if we were to take the respective form of both players in making the final of this tournament as evidence of how they will play tomorrow, we would have to make Robertson a warm favourite to come through a comfortable winner.

Snooker though is rarely that simple and in truth I would attach very little weight to the form of either player so far this week when it comes to their best of 19 frames final tomorrow. As Neil said to the BBC today, Mark had similarly not played particularly well heading into their Masters final earlier this year, only to surprise him with a brilliant display at the Alexandra Palace.

In Neil and Mark, we have two of the toughest, two of the most high-scoring and two of the most resilient players in the sport right now and it will be fascinating to see who will win what I expect to be a hard-fought final tomorrow.

In terms of their previous history, prior to their meeting at the Barbican Centre 12 months ago, there was very little to speak of, but since then they have met five times in major tournaments. First blood went to Selby, who won their meetings at the UK Championship, but interestingly it has been Robertson who has won their last three contests, at the Haikou World Open, China Open and Australian Goldfields Open this summer.

Has Robertson got the upper hand in their head to head matches? Similar to Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in tennis, I suspect that this growing rivalry is going to be one which will see a number of swings in momentum and that if one player embarks upon a winning run, it will spur the other on to hit back.

For that reason, I cannot split the pair tomorrow and am simply looking forward to what will hopefully be a dramatic final, to round off a thoroughly entertaining tournament.