NEW SEASON: AN AUSSIE UNLEASHED
That may sound like a strange statement but first time world champions have always played with the sure knowledge that they are the guy to be shot at and, as the season winds inexorably towards the Crucible, the moment of truth is approaching.
It was noticeable that Robertson played well in the early part of last season, winning the World Open, but not so well in the second half.
This was perhaps a subconscious reaction to the fact the World Championship was coming round again.
As Shakespeare wrote: ‘uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.’ Well, Robertson’s immaculately coiffeured head can rest more easily now.
Neil is one of my favourite players to watch. He’s a great talent and a great competitor too, which don’t always go together.
Remember, he has appeared in six ranking tournament finals and won them all, which is suggestive of a strong temperament and ability to cope with pressure.
He is particularly good at identifying the crucial part of a match and seizing upon an opponent’s weakness at the right time.
He is the only player to win a ranking title in each of the last five calendar years (2006-2010).
Robertson remains one of the eight or nine players most likely to win the big titles but I’m sure would rather be in an even smaller field than that.
He did, after all, become world no.1 last season but ended the campaign in fifth place.
So the possibility of him becoming the game’s dominant figure after his Crucible triumph didn’t really materialise, at least not yet.
One sure sign that he’s the real deal is that he’s not someone you hear other players questioning in terms of weaknesses in his game.
In fact, his only real weakness is in preparation. Last season this reached farcical levels when he lost his passport and arrived in Berlin not long before his first round match, which he of course lost.
Actually, this laidback persona is a good thing in a sportsman because it means they stay relaxed and don’t fret or let things get to them.
There’s a difference, though, between being laidback and flat out horizontal.
This isn’t a criticism of Neil because his life is (happily) complicated by having a young son and no family nearby to share the load with him and his partner.
How proud Robertson must be to have a fully fledged ranking tournament in Australia, something he must take some of the credit for due to his performances on the world stage.
Next month his home fans, family and friends will get the chance to watch him play close up as a professional. For many of them it will be for the first time.
What they will see is one of snooker’s modern greats. Beneath that laidback exterior is a tough as old boots competitor now freed from the shackles of expectation that come with being world champion.
And that makes him more dangerous than ever.