There are two Robertsons at the Crucible this year. Neil, of course, is defending the Betfred.com World Championship title.

Jimmy Robertson, on the other hand, is an unknown quantity whose run to the final stages came out of the blue – certainly for him.

“I was ill in bed a few days before the qualifiers,” he said. “It was one of those flu like things where every part of my body ached. I didn’t expect much when I got to Sheffield but seemed to play well from the start.

“I’m just really happy. My phone was non-stop with calls and texts afterwards. Hopefully this will be the first time I’m at the Crucible but not the last.”

After tight wins over Xiao Guodong (10-9) and Tony Drago (10-8), Robertson faced the vastly experienced Ken Doherty in the final qualifying round.

Doherty, champion in 1997, led 6-3 at the halfway stage and logic dictated that, with all his years in the game, he would close out victory.

“I didn’t have that much to lose. Ken would have been favourite but I felt I played all right in the first session, even though I was behind.

“My aim was to win three of the first four frames and get it back to 7-6 but in fact I won all four, he started missing and I managed to come through.”

Robertson, who turns 25 the day after this year’s World Championship ends, began playing at the age of eight and also pursued a career as a junior football and had trials for Crystal Palace before snooker won out.

He first turned professional in 2002 at the age of just 16 after winning the WPBSA’s junior play-offs, one of the varied paths to joining the main tour that have been employed over the years.

He won his first ranking event match but failed to win another and was immediately relegated.

Robertson was perhaps too young for the big time but his game was also severely hampered by a mysterious attack of the shakes.

“I had it for three or four years,” he said. “Everyone gets a little shaky when they are nervous but I found myself shaking when I was practising on my own.

“I couldn’t understand what it was or why it was happening.

“I went to see a specialist, who said it may have been a condition called dystonia, which causes your muscles to go into spasm but it could also have been because I was doing weights at the gym.

“I stopped doing them, talked it over with a few people and eventually it went away.

“I didn’t talk about it for ages because it was embarrassing for me. I was shaking so much that I couldn’t hold my cue properly and could barely see the balls.

“I thought people were looking at me, wondering what was going on. After it cleared up, though, my snooker started improving.

“I still get the odd shake now and again but it’s nowhere near as bad as it used to be.”

Robertson, who won the English amateur title in 2009, owns a snooker club, O’Sullivan’s in Bexhill-on-Sea, which his parents run for him when he is at tournaments or practising.

They will have to undertake a few more shifts come April 16. He has never been to the Crucible to watch but, alongside this year’s other debutant, Andrew Pagett, will become one of 179 players to have competed there since the World Championship moved to Sheffield in 1977.


Anonymous said...

Very impressed by what I saw in the Qualifiers of Jimmy. Go on and show them what you can do in Sheffield - definitely one outsider who could make an impression with a bit of self-belief

jamie brannon said...

I saw an article similar in The Times on Monday, guessing you must have given Phil Yates the quotes.

Can't see him beating Selby.

The winner of a potential Ding v Selby quarter-final in Sheffield is my tip to go all the way. Slightly favour Ding.

Betty Logan said...

I think in normal circumstance you would favour Ding, but his Crucible record leaves a lot to be desired for someone who has won two UKs and a Masters. I'm wondering if Ding is slightly claustrophobic and the Crucible arena gets to him, because he's a proven big occasion player so his abysmal WC form is a mystery.

Redandblackblog said...

Everyone goes on about Ding's poor record at the crucible but the players he's lost to are Ronnie O'Sullivan, Stephen Hendry (twice) and Shaun Murphy so all in all he's been up against some pretty big names. His time will come.

garymoss87 said...

Good read Dave. Thanks

Anonymous said...

9.06 pm - look very closely into the defeats to Hendry x2 and Murphy and you'll see why Ding's time may not come (at Sheffield)

Anonymous said...

Robertson's a class player. No doubt. Selby's a tough call, but its all on the day. If Jimmy can get his inconsistencies out of the way, he will be one to watch for the future.

I have followed him for many years, and i think his time has come to be up there with the big boys. He thoroughly deserves it.I think the finalist, if not the winner will come from this section of the draw, whether Selby, Robertson or Ding!