Confidence is rarely lacking in Australian sportsmen but when Neil Robertson announced to his family at the age of just 11 that he would one day be world snooker champion it must have sounded a fanciful proposition.

Fast forward 14 years, though, and Robertson will be one of the favourites at the Crucible in April after producing another top drawer performance to beat Andrew Higginson 9-8 in a gripping Welsh Open final at the Newport Centre tonight.

Robertson has now won two ranking titles this season, having captured the Royal London Watches Grand Prix in Aberdeen last October.

Then, he became the 42nd player to win a ranking event and now becomes the 22nd to win more than one.

In truth, though, there were two winners at Newport. It was Robertson's title but the week belonged to Higginson.

His inspirational run from the first qualifying round to the final - with a televised maximum along the way - was extraordinary. Furthermore, it was a timely counter to the complacency of some of the game's top players who don't seem especially interested at the moment.

Some 11 years in the making, Higginson deserves much praise for his exploits. He's back in action in a week's time when he tackles Mark Boyle in the first qualifying round of the 888.com World Championship at Prestatyn.

It was a good tournament, though the crowds were generally poor. This has not happened before in Newport and could in part be due to extensive work going on outside the venue.

One final thing: the tournament desperately needs a new trophy to replace that aesthically displeasing piece of slate.

As Joe Johnson said in his Eurosport commentary: "It looks like it's fallen off my roof."


David said...

I love Snooker! this is one of the most exciting games I know. I can't help wondering what is the connection between 888.com and Snooker. Aren't they related to online gambling or something?

Dave H said...

Yes, they are an online gaming company

Anonymous said...


Firstly, congratulations to Neil Robertson for the victory and his post match press conference quotes where he eulogised on everything from Andrew Higginson, to where he wants to be - ranking wise - at the end of the season. This is a snooker player who knows what he wants, and what direction he is going in. Other players would do well, not just to look at the Australian's game but, by the way he conducts himself off the table as well!

And, as am sure you'll know, the fourth person after Thornburn, Wattana and Ding from overseas to win 2 WR tournaments. Does that not include Doherty, or have I got that wrong?

As for Higginson, he doesn't want to be a "one hit wonder!" I really do hope that he isn't. Apart from the first session of the final, where if only he had one a few of the scrappy frames, he may well have been the winner instead of the loser. But that is to take nothing away from the six frames he took in the final session. That was the most explosive snooker i've seen for some while.

I only hope he continues to push harder up the rankings and qualify's for the latter stages of the tournaments next season. He can start thinking about winning them, when as he said he "becomes a top 16 player."

I would like to see him qualify for the World Championships.

A couple of other points; I hear there will be quite a media presence for Jimmy White's World Championship qualifiers at Prestatyn. Are you going?

And, with the Snooker Writers Awards not to far away now, I take it Robertson must be a shoo-in for player of the season, regardless of what happens from here-on-in.

Who has your vote for newcomer/young player of the season. Andrew Higginson wouldn't feature in this would he?

By the way, my TV ariel has just come of the roof, does the Welsh Open want that for a alternative to the piece of slate they present to the winner next season?

Also, I only found out the other day why Maguire had such a bugbear about Murphy after saying he took a "dislike" to the Rotherham professional after beating him on Friday.

Would it be right in saying that Murphy was un-sportsmanlike when asking the referee what the rules were, after Maguire walked out of the auditorium to get some chalk he forgot during his match at the Grand Prix in '04. After being docked a frame, it seems to me that Murphy had in a way 'grassed' Maguire to the authorities. Am I right in thinking this?

Finally, have you got anymore news on this Irish tournament that is going ahead in early March. Can you confirm that Irish TV are not showing it?

Thanks, Joe

Dave H said...

Many people would agree with your assessment of what Murphy did. Steve Davis at the time described it as 'the saddest thing I've ever seen in terms of the spirit of the game'.

The Kilkenny Masters runs from March 9-11. They have a website: www.kilkennymasters.net. It's not on TV this year but will hopefully grow into an established event.

I expect I shall be in Prestatyn for Jimmy's match - what a huge occasion it is for him.

Robertson is player of the year so far. Higginson isn't really a newcomer, bearing in mind he's been a pro 11 years, so Jamie Cope is probably favourite in that category at the moment.