Neil Robertson yesterday repeated his 2013 Wuxi Classic triumph,but only after coming through a titanic battle with his great friend Joe Perry,eventually claiming the crown with a 10-9 victory.
Perry came into this final still in search of his first full ranking title and it was he who got the better of the early exchanges to hold a 5-4 lead after the first session,indeed but for a typically gutsy display from Robertson the lead could have been even more. This however did leave things beautifully poised going into the evening session and it did not disappoint.
In a session where the momentum swung both ways it appeared early on that Robertson had ridden out the storm as he took four of the first five frames to lead 8-5. Perry though managed to stop the rot taking the next and drew level in a dramatic 16th frame,where after initially missing the final black he made the most of a second chance to level things up at 8-8.
Into the next and it was Perry who edged ahead again with a 93 to move to the brink at 9-8. A victory over Robertson though is not something that is gifted to you,but something you must earn and the Aussie was not for rolling over here taking the next with with an 87 to make it 9-9.
Into the decider then and it was Perry who got in first,but when he missed the blue with the rest on 18,Robertson pounced like all great champions do,knocking in a 78 to clinch the title and deny his close friend his day in the sunshine.
For Perry this will a heartbreaking defeat,but he can take some comfort that,despite the fact he is now in the autumn of his career,he is now playing the best snooker of his life and if he keeps up this level of performance surely another run at a title can't be far away.
For Robertson he will be hoping this will be the springboard to more success this season.Of course last season he followed up his victory here by claiming his first UK Championship as well as the China Open and also that extraordinary century of centuries,but for all that I suspect he will look back at the year with a little disappointment that despite playing some superb snooker he didn't claim more trophies. The question for this season is can he make the leap from consistency to domination.
His next chance to do so comes this week with the tournament he'd like to win possibly most of all.The Australian Goldfields Open