Before the final, a word on the semis, in particular the fall-out from Neil Robertson’s victory over Judd Trump.
I personally have no problem with Robertson’s clenched-fist in potting frame and match ball. This was not a protracted celebration, just a release of emotion.
Equally, I have no problem with the supporters of players shouting out between shots. As long as they don’t put the players off when they are down at the table a bit of audience participation is fine.
Flukes have always been applauded and people who are partisan to begin with become more so as the match wears on.
Robertson had his say afterwards, not about Trump but some of his entourage. Said members of the Trump massive did themselves few favours with some unpleasant tweeting about Robertson in the aftermath. Trump, to his credit, wished the Australian well for the final.
One point that is absurd, though, is Robertson’s ‘slow’ play. Trump is lucky he never had to play the real grinders to grace the snooker stage.
The fact is this: Robertson has made more centuries this season than any other player. He is not a grinder but he is a great match-player who plays to his strengths, not his opponents (there is a difference).
Robertson also seems to enjoy riling his fellow players a little and good on him for that. It’s a game, yes, but also a profession. There’s no reason why everyone has to be friends.
This has been made out to be some great feud but the slightly disappointing truth is this: both Neil and Judd are too nice to get involved in anything as serious as that. All the surrounding blather on Twitter and elsewhere doesn’t change this.
And so to the final...
NEIL ROBERTSON V SHAUN MURPHY
It’s a very difficult final to predict because it involves two proven winners both playing superbly and both good under pressure.
It is Robertson’s ninth TV final. He has never lost one. The Melbourne man also becomes the eighth non British player to appear in a Masters final.
Murphy, like Robertson, had done little of note in the Masters prior to this year but was superb again last night.
It would have been an injustice had he lost to John Higgins, even though the match was very close to going 5-5. Murphy scored heavily, making three centuries, and remained positive throughout.
He always has been ultra confident, but such self belief is understandable given his ability. His technique belongs in a textbook and his poise under pressure is why he’s one win away from becoming only the eighth player to complete the ‘triple crown’ of title successes in the World Championship, UK Championship and Masters.
Prediction: I’m going Murphy to win 10-8 but I really don’t know or, for that matter, care. I’ll just sit back enjoy what promises to be an enthralling encounter.