It was victory over Liu Song that set Neil Robertson on the road to the big time.

They met in the final of the 2003 IBSF World Under 21 Championship in New Zealand. Robertson won 11-5 and was given a wild card for the main tour.

The Australian had played on the professional circuit prior to this but found life on tour hard, not least because of the financial strain associated with flying to the other side of the world to try his hand at a highly competitive sport.

However, there was never any doubting his talent and, settled in Cambridge, he has turned into one of the best players in the world.

The Melbourne man has already won four ranking titles - including the 2007 Welsh Open - and starts out against Liu in Newport today in arguably the right side of the draw, avoiding Ronnie O'Sullivan, John Higgins, Shaun Murphy, Mark Selby and Ding Junhui until the final.

Liu has done nothing of note since his appearance in the quarter-finals of the 2007 Grand Prix.

Last season, he won only two matches and his form has collapsed to such an extent that he currently lies 89th in the provisional rankings.

So his three victories in Prestatyn to qualify for Newport have been a real boost and the Chinese needs a strong finish to the season to remain on the circuit.

This afternoon's other match is held over from the final qualifying round so that Matthew Stevens plays in front of his home crowd.

He faces the experienced and often dangerous Barry Pinches, who ended his title defence of the UK Championship with a 9-4 opening round defeat in 2004.

Peter Ebdon, whose form is currently a little patchy, could be in trouble against twice Welsh semi-finalist Barry Hawkins.

Tonight, defending Welsh Open champion Ali Carter takes on Mark Davis, the recently crowned six reds world champion.

And Andrew Higginson, beaten 9-8 by Robertson in the 2007 Welsh Open final after a memorable, heart warming week, faces Marco Fu, who he beat in the first round three years ago to launch his remarkable run.


Anonymous said...

should have been:

Going for a Liu

I am hoping some of the old guard hit form this week...

Anonymous said...

Well- Shakin’ Stevens Survives -qouting worldsnooker caption, but it is going to be tough against rocksolid Murphy today....