Neil Robertson closes in on more Masters glory
17:44 19 January 2013
Defending champion Neil Robertson moved into the final of the Betfair Masters with a 6-2 defeat of Shaun Murphy.
The Australian, who beat Murphy 10-6 in last year’s final, saw off the same opponent today at London’s Alexandra Palace to set up a final against Mark Selby or Graeme Dott - who meet in tonight’s other semi-final.
Robertson won the opening frame with a decisive break of 84. However, the Australian suffered in the second frame as he attempted to sink a red over a corner pocket, only for the ball to appear to roll off.
Murphy capitalised with a break of 48 which helped him to a 78-1 success which levelled the scores.
However, Robertson retained his composure in style, with a superbly crafted clearance of 132 restoring his lead in the clash of the 30-year-olds.
The same pocket which had upset Robertson undid both players in the next frame. Murphy giving away four points when he followed through into it with the white after potting a red with the rest, before the Australian missed a routine red.
A run of 45 helped Murphy to move 68 points clear with only 67 remaining in frame four, but Robertson got the snooker he needed and aided by a 25 clearance he went 3-1 up at the mid-session interval.
Murphy held his nerve to win a 39-minute fifth frame by sinking a pink down the cushion, reducing the arrears to 3-2.
However, he missed another red with the rest in frame six after putting 43 points on the board and Robertson stepped in with an 85 clearance to restore his two-frame advantage at 4-2.
Robertson moved to the brink of victory with a his second century break of the match - a 127 clearance - taking him three frames clear of Murphy after his opponent had missed a black off its spot.
And, after both players had missed the yellow twice in frame eight, Robertson sank it and the remaining colours to win the frame 62-56 and knock out the 2005 world champion.
Robertson, who himself won the world crown in 2010, told the BBC afterwards: “It’s an amazing feeling to have the chance to defend my title.
“I’ve been pouncing on mistakes and making big breaks so it may be in the back of my opponents’ mind that if they miss I can clear up.
“You’ve got to punish people. Shaun’s a fantastic attacking player but I do feel quite comfortable with a tactical exchange.
“My potting gets me out of trouble a lot of the time but tomorrow’s another day.”