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Monday, 30 June 2014

Wuxi Classic Final,Robertson defends title.

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

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Wuxi Classic 2014

With World Cup fever currently gripping the globe and Wimbledon starting to take over our screens in this part of world,it would be easy to miss the fact that  the new snooker season has started in earnest,but start it has and eight men  still remain on course to lift the seasons first full ranking title this Sunday in Wuxi.

The very reason of course for this tournament been held in Wuxi is the fact that is the homestead of Ding Junhui,so it is therefore unfortunate that he failed to negotiate the first round which was played in England at the start of June and so was missing from the line up here.The fact that he was been made travel half way around the world to play a qualifying match ,while the local wild cards all had their matches held over to the venue is a discussion for another day,but anyway,Ding seems to have put it behind him quickly as he claimed the first of the Asian Tour events last weekend,beating Michael Holt  in the final.

Another notable absentee from the last 8 is our new world champion Mark Selby who went down 5-2 in the last 32 to the always dangerous Liang Wenbo.

So what of the last eight?Well considering this is only the first tournament of the new season we have remarkably strong line up still standing as we reach the weeks business end.

The obvious stand out tie,is the clash between Neil Robertson &  Shaun Murphy  and this one promises to be an early season classic,with both men picking up where they left off at the end of last term.Robertson it has seemed in recent times,has reached a level of performance that he just doesn't fall below and reached this stage with a comfortable 5-1 win over Michael Holt.Murphy for his part beat one of China's real rising stars ,17 yr old Zhao Xintong  5-2 to reach the quarter finals.

The winner of that one will face the winner of  Marco Fu Barry Hawkins.Both these men have fine early season records and came through today with wins over Stuart Bingham (5-4) & Alan McManus (5-2) respectively.

In the other half of the draw Martin Gould faces Stephem Maguire & Robin Hull squares up against Joe Perry

Gould is making a welcome return to the latter stages of an event for the first time in it seems quite a while and got here with a fine 5-3 victory over an in form Ryan Day.On the face of it Maguires 5-0 win over Judd Trump looks like it was a walk  in the park,but scorelines can be deceptive and this scrappy match was a lot closer than the score suggests.

Hull & Perry brought the runs of two of the Chinese contingent to and end with Hull recording a 5-1 win over Cao Yupeng & Perry beating Liang Wenbo 5-2.

The last eight matches all take place tomorrow with coverage on both Eurosport channels from 7.30 GMT