Neil Robertson has what many of this year’s contenders do not: a world title.

The experience of having lasted the distance at the Crucible coupled with the knowledge that snooker’s greatest prize is not beyond him makes him a very dangerous prospect.

He has also played very well for much of the season. He was runner-up in three tournaments – the International Championship, Masters and PTC Grand Finals – before securing the China Open title a couple of weeks ago.

I remember the first time Robertson played at the Crucible in 2005. He went for everything and ran Stephen Hendry close with a good comeback before losing 10-7.

These days he is more measured, more rounded but every bit as confident, more so now he has titles to back up the potential.

Robertson has it all: he’s a great potter, heavy scorer, a fine tactician and has a big match temperament which makes him a formidable pressure player.

He was looking good last year but ran into Ronnie O’Sullivan in the quarter-finals. In the second session, O’Sullivan took control. Robertson, for once, was bested when the pressure came on.

The Aussie is usually adept at applying pressure to others. He has ironed out the early rawness in his game without losing his attacking instincts.

When things have gone wrong this season – losing 6-4 to Mark Selby from 4-0 up in the UK Championship quarter-finals – it has been the result of going negative.

Robertson can play the tactical game really well but is best in full flow, attacking and dominating opponents. Getting bogged down has sometimes led to problems and meant that his natural fluency has been eroded.

His best performance the year he won the title came against Martin Gould in the second round: an all guns blazing display which saw Robertson win 13-12 from 11-5 down. This is the Neil Robertson which strikes fear into opponents.

I think Neil’s general character is also a reason for his success. He is a cheerful, positive sort. He’s not a moaner and groaner. The glass is always half full.

He would admit himself that preparation and general dizziness have caused problems for him in the past. I won’t list the occasions but they are well documented. Some others aren’t documented.

But put it this way: if he turns up in Sheffield with a clear head then he will be one of the main favourites to win the title. It would be a shock if he lost early on.

Robertson is a snooker warrior. He possesses a tough competitive spirit, burns with determination and certainly has the game to go all the way.

It will come down to how he performs against the big hitters he is sure to meet in the latter stages if he gets that far. O’Sullivan would again provide a stern test, as would Selby. Robertson is up to either test but they are different: O’Sullivan cobra-like in his deadly way, Selby more like a boa constrictor squeezing the life out of him.

There’s no venom in Robertson but there is real drive of the sort you’d expect from a player who has made genuine sacrifices to pursue his dream.

To be world champion once is a lifetime ambition realised. To win it again is to join a select company of true greats.


Anonymous said...

One of my picks for the title, he wouldn't meet the rocket until the final anyway if they were to meet each other. Don't envy robbies half of the draw with selby and ding in it.

Anonymous said...

Always comes over as a nice guy.

Certainly has experience to win again, and we have seen him in 4 finals this season (one win).

Despite that I wonder if he has not met his own expectations over last 9 months - I was a bit concerned by his body language against Ding in the final at Galway.

Would certainly be a popular winner

BTW Dave - thanks for adding a new word to my vocabulary "bested" !:)

Anonymous said...

Off topic perhaps but it has been an absolute pleasure to listen to the commentary on livesport the last couple of days.

Arne, Sweden

Jim said...

The only thing stopping Robbo is the BBC's immature England V The Assuies crap he has to put up and get drawn into every year with constant stupid comments from Hazel and Aussie put downs and cliches. I really don't get all this, its not cricket, its not a team event, its not England v Australia so why must Robbo have to face the jeers. Its all sold as a bit camaraderie but its not for Robbo, he wants to get on and play with the same respect any other non-brit player gets, why is it only him singled out for this. Bringing the Vs Australia rubbish into snooker isn't needed, alot of folk including me are behind Neil over our 'own' and don't care about this charade, booo Aussies booo.

Sometimes think im watching blue peter when I switch the World Champs on.

Anonymous said...

In my book he's the slight clear favourite for this year's title.
In beating Selby at the end of March to capture the China Open he erased both a succession of recent final defeats and arguably his worse loss of the season, when losing to Selby in the UK 4-6 from leading 4-0.
Mentally he KNOWS also he can win the championship because he did 3 years ago, where some other live contenders THINK they can win it.


Anonymous said...

Don't be such a bore get a sense of humour. I think Neil loves the challenge of being the Aussie against the Brit he's that sort of guy he's one of my favourite player he's a class act.

Anonymous said...

There are quite a few players who think they can win, but there are just 5 who I think can win:
Robbo, Ronnie, Trump, Selby, Ding.
Out of those 5 I'd pick Robertson to go all the way.

Anonymous said...

I suppose from the bottom half Selby would be favourite to go through to the final on this season's form guide having landed the two big titles of the season, but I actually think Robbo is the better all-round player, which I think counts for much more in the longer format matches. A tight tactical game can squeeze you out of a few frames (and it has served Selby well this season) but over 3/4 sessions your opponent is going to get chances, and Robbo is one of those players who tends to make the most of them. He's the only player in the last 6 years to get a look in at the WC, and having done it already must stand you in good stead. I think the China Open victory will have expelled the demons from his recent final defeats, and it is going to take a top player in good form to beat him. In fact, if you were to select the in-form players from the previous winners at The Crucible then he's the favourite going into this constest: he's won the world title before; he won the last tournament; he beat the world number doing it; and he's accumulated the most ranking points this season. If you take Robbo and Selby out of the equation, there isn't much quality in the lower half of the draw, so he and Selby look like strong, strong favourites to contest the second semi.

Anonymous said...

Semi final line up. Higgins/ o'sullivan v trump. Robertson v selby

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the off topic, but that was a stream of profanity from Eirean in the mid-session break. He should know his mike could still be live. Five 'f's' in two sentences is world class swearing.


Jim said...

"Don't be such a bore get a sense of humour. I think Neil loves the challenge of being the Aussie against the Brit he's that sort of guy he's one of my favourite player he's a class act."

Wait and see, watch the old boys club refuse to accept Neil's brilliance and sheer balls at the big occasion, nit pick everything he does wrong and spect we will hear the anecdote about Hendry saying his break building is amateurish 42 times while lumping loads of needless pressure about Australia onto him in every studio interview.

I'm glad Neil can use this as a positive but to me it seems like deliberate gamesmanship tactics to put Neil off under the guise of its only a bit of fun Eng v Aus nonsense. Its ridiculous and childish but what do you expect off them who can't bare an aussie owning them at their own game. There's a lot of jealously there, especially from those who think Aussie's are mentally inferior somehow.

Its nout to do with having a sense of humour, my humour is fully intact, its a cricket thing and has no place in an individual sport like snooker, you don't see Ding getting a load of crap because he's Chinese.

All the best Neil, my top pick this year.

Anonymous said...

Jim - "watch the old boys club refuse to accept Neil's brilliance and sheer balls at the big occasion"

"but to me it seems like deliberate gamesmanship tactics to put Neil off u"

Jim, not sure where you get this drivel from..."old boys" I assume you mean Davis and Parrott for example - the truth is Davis and Parrott are constantly praising Robertson, so much so I remember Davis tipping Robertson to win the title during his last 16 tie v Gilbert and Parrott has done in the past too.

Anonymous said...

This England v Australia thing in relation with Robertson is just pure banter and nothing more, and I'm sure Robertson would say the same...

jamie brannon said...

The comments about it being constantly billed England-Australia were laughable.

If anything Robbo, would enjoy an Ashes-esque contest in an Ashes year.

Dave - you were right about Williams' microphone earlier being too high, I could hear heavy breathing!

Not only that, but the Welshman could be heard during the interval using the f-word freely.

jamie brannon said...

As for the Drago-Gilbert clash, a pity for Tony but he missed a golden chance to go 8-6 and then disintegrated under in the heat of the EIS.

What a character, and one of snooker's greatest ever entertainers.

Anonymous said...

A great couple of weeks of sport.
Augusta followed by Sheffield.
Fred Couples showing us how it's done.
Hoping Jimmy can do likewise on Sunday !!!

Jim said...

""old boys" I assume you mean Davis and Parrott for example - the truth is Davis and Parrott are constantly praising Robertson"

I'm referring to WT and JV really, Davis and Parrot are excellent at what they do, unbiased and objective.

Anonymous said...

Ok, fair comment Jim...

Geoffrey Mc Donnell said...

Robertson certainly could win it- depending on how he plays his match and against whom? It was distressing to see him loose so many finals this year , but a VERY convincing win in China.... so maybe he can turn his final matches around? The only match he lost to exceptional playing was against a superb 'ding' the loss against Selby was devestating in the masters. Its a difficult game but if 'in form' he has every chance.

Anonymous said...

Good card player.

Anonymous said...

Good player,but his break-building is amateurish