Neil Robertson’s recovery from 5-1 down to beat Mark Selby 10-7 and win the UK Championship in York last night was final confirmation, as if it were needed, of his status as a modern great.
World champion in 2010 and Masters winner in 2012, Robertson’s capture of the UK title makes him the eighth player to have won the game’s ‘triple crown’ of major events.
It’s a good list to be on: Steve Davis, Terry Griffiths, Alex Higgins, Stephen Hendry, John Higgins, Mark Williams and Ronnie O’Sullivan.
The triumph looked unlikely early on. Robertson appeared inhibited and unable to produce his best as Selby took control of the first session.
However, Robertson must have left the arena feeling confident after ending the afternoon with a century and made two more in levelling at 6-6. His tally of centuries for the season now stands at 58, just three away from the record Judd Trump set during 2012/13.
The pressure had by now transferred to Selby, who having led 6-3 found himself 8-6 down. At one point Robertson had amassed 410 points without reply.
Selby rallied to 8-7 but missed the final black for 8-8, after which victory, even for a player as determined as the Leicester man, seemed unlikely.
For Selby, the UK Championship turned into a tale of two black balls, which between them emphasised the conflicting emotions sport can produce: joy as the black went in for the maximum, despair at missing it to level the final.
Robertson too was emotional, seemingly wiping away a tear at the end. His mother, Alison, who he is able to see only rarely, is in the UK for Christmas. She has a 100% record in finals, having previously seen Neil win the World Championship.
He is a worthy world no.1 and a player whose attitude and demeanour should serve as inspiration to all those who have ambition to rise up the ranks. A fine player, he also speaks well and conducts himself professionally.
This was a terrific final of high quality with an absorbing closing session befitting the status of the tournament.
The Barbican Centre and its audience certainly played its part. It would be a great shame if York was snubbed next year. There were complaints about space and the format but does anyone really think they will vanish if the UK Championship is held somewhere else next year? I doubt it.
There are qualifiers this week for the German Masters and World Open but the UK Championship was the last tournament of 2013. It was a great way to end the year.