THUNDER STRIKES FOR SECOND MASTERS TITLE
Australia’s Neil Robertson landed his second Cazoo Masters crown, ten years after his first, with a 10-4 defeat of Barry Hawkins in the final at Alexandra Palace.
The Melbourne cueman beat Shaun Murphy 10-6 in the 2012 title match, but was runner-up to Mark Selby the following year. His most recent appearance in the final was in 2015, again up against Murphy, when he fell to a heavy 10-2 defeat. Today’s victory ends his decade long wait for Alexandra Palace glory.
This is 2010 World Champion Robertson’s sixth Triple Crown title, moving him ahead of Alex Higgins into eighth position on the all-time list. Only Ray Reardon, Mark Williams, Selby, John Higgins, Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry and Ronnie O’Sullivan have won more.
Robertson had an impressive path to lifting the Paul Hunter Trophy and securing the £250,000 top prize. After a 6-3 defeat of Anthony McGill in the opening round, he scored a 6-4 win over O’Sullivan. He then secured a thrilling 6-5 defeat of Williams in the semi-finals, where he came back from requiring two snookers in the decider.
Hawkins will be disappointed to succumb to another defeat in a Masters final. He lost out 10-1 against O’Sullivan in 2016. The three-time ranking event winner leaves with the consolation of a £100,000 runner-up prize. He enjoyed a superb week, defeating Murphy, Selby and Judd Trump en route to today’s showpiece showdown with Robertson.
This afternoon saw 21-time ranking event winner Robertson take control of proceedings, establishing a 5-3 cushion heading into the final session.
World number four Robertson kept pressing forward when the concluding session got underway and moved three ahead at 6-3, with the help of a 50 break.
The Hawk clawed his way back within two when he composed a break of 69 to make it 6-4. However, that would prove to be his final frame of the evening.
Robertson surged for the finish line and crafted breaks of 68 and 114 on his way to four frames on the bounce, which secured him the 10-4 win and his second taste of Masters glory.
“I’m so happy to win this wonderful title again. I had my first win after Alexander was born at this event back in 2012. I always wanted to do a repeat with Penelope here as well, so I’m happy to do that,” said 39-year-old Robertson.
“Barry was the underdog tonight and I felt like I was the villain spoiling the fairytale at some points. He is such a wonderful player. He really deserves to win one of the big titles. I had to stay focussed with the job at hand. I knew that the majority of the crowd were with him. Luckily with my experience I knew how to silence that a little bit, play well and get a good lead.
“When I won my first title I thought I’d be able to go back to Australia happy. Who’d have thought I’d still be living here 16 years later. I think a lot of things have happened since Barry Hearn took over and gave us more opportunities to play. He has been a massive part of allowing myself and all of the great players in the game to win as much as we have.
“So many people have said they’ve never seen anything like my deciding frame with Mark Williams in sport, let alone snooker. I was absolutely dead and buried and all of a sudden it was like a phoenix rising from the ashes.”
Hawkins said: “It’s a bit disappointing. I expected to go out there and play well. I was over the moon to be 5-3 down after this afternoon. I felt better tonight, but Neil played stronger. I just made too many mistakes overall. Neil is a fantastic player and a fantastic cueist. You just can’t do that at this level.
“This has been one of the best weeks of my life. The atmosphere at every match has been phenomenal. There aren’t many snooker players that will have experienced that. I am going to remember all of those cheers and they will stay with me for a while.”
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- Katherine Aboud