Neil Robertson is the 2013 China Open champion after a hard fought 10-6 victory over Mark Selby in todays final in Beijing.
This was amazingly Robertson's first full ranking title since the 2010 World Open,although he has won a number of PTC events as well as last seasons Masters,and he was made scrap all the way here by the Leicsterman,who battled,the way a world no.1 should,right to the final ball.
It had appeared that we might be set for an early finish as Robertson dominated the first session that in truth lacked in real quality to take a 6-1 lead into the evening.This really was a tough matchplay snooker with a succession of 30min plus frames meaning that play was stopped two frames short of the scheduled nine to allow the players a break between sessions.
These were tough times for Selby who normally thrives on nicking fragmented frames.but any of us who were counting him out were forgetting who exactly we were dealing with and in the evening session he responded like all great champions do by coming out and giving it everything he had.
Looking a different player he rolled in breaks of 81 ,125 and 66 to close the gap to 6-4.Robertson at this stage must have fighting to keep a lid on the memory of losing that 4-0 lead to Selby in the UK championship earlier in the season and he managed to stop the rot by taking a vital eleventh frame with a 110 to lead 7-4 at the interval.
The next frame was now going to be key and with the scores at 37-34 in Robertson's favour,he knocked in a crucial last red and cleared the awkwardly placed colours to lead 8-4.That became 9-4 courtesy of a 90 break and Robertson now stood just one frame away from the title,but as we have come to expect from Selby he wasn't finished just yet.breaks of 116 & 63 closed it again to 9-6.Robertson wasn't to be denied though and won the next to secure the hard fought 10-6 win.
For Robertson this was a richly deserved and long overdue success.Over the last couple of seasons he has been ultra consistent but I have felt at times he has gotten bogged down in matches and fallen into the trap of tying not to lose rather then playing to win which is not his natural game.I think here ,especially in his semi final against Maguire that he has gone back to his old "bull by the horns" style and that will stand him in good stead for the battles ahead.
As for Selby,he once again proved here,even in defeat,exactly why he has had the success he has had this season and he fully deserves his place back at the top of the world rankings.He will now head to the Crucible in three weeks full of confidence as he seeks to the World title to the UK and Masters titles he has already won this season
So thats 10 ranking events this season with 10 different winners,That leaves with only one tournament left and thats the big one at The Crucible where among everything else we will be welcoming back a certain Mr; O'Sullivan.The countdown begins now,Roll on April 20th!