Neil Robertson’s reputation as one of the hardest players in the game was further enhanced tonight by his capture of the BGC Masters in London.
The Aussie is now as tough as they come, an all-round match-player in the Steve Davis/John Higgins mould.
Shaun Murphy will be disappointed that he didn’t score more heavily but there is no disgrace in losing to Robertson, whose all round game has come on leaps and bounds in the last two years.
This is a guy who arrived in the UK for a final shot at the professional circuit with just £500 on him. You won’t hear Robertson moaning about all the travelling necessary to make snooker a proper international sport because he made a huge sacrifice by moving to the other side of the world, away from his family and friends to pursue his ambition to be a top player.
Well, the kid who learned his trade a stone’s throw from the sun-drenched beaches of Melbourne remained ice cool in the capital amid the chilly British winter and becomes the fourth non-British player, after Perrie Mans, Cliff Thorburn and Ding Junhui, to win the Masters.
The scenes afterwards with his partner, Mille, and their young son, Alexander, were wonderful...one for the family album.
That’s now nine TV finals and nine victories, some record for a player who seems most at home when the pressure is on.
Every facet of his game was working well. He has made 38 centuries this season – more than anyone else – and his safety game is rock hard. He is a brilliant potter and so finds ways into frames. It is some package.
I congratulate Neil, a genuinely nice bloke who treats the game with respect. The Masters is one of our majors and it’s been won by a player who has come a long way, both geographically and in terms of the way he has sharpened his game.
He is now one tough nut to crack.