Friday, 27 April 2012

Robertson is the man to beat

Neil Robertson is the first man through to the quarter-finals of this year's World Championship - and is the player everyone else needs to beat.
The Australian booked his place in the last eight tonight with a 13-9 victory against world number 68 David Gilbert, after seeing off Ken Doherty 10-4 in the round one.

Picture by Monique Limbos
So far I've been impressed with the 2010 champion more than anyone else in the tournament and his performances have already seen him become the bookmakers' new favourite or the title.

But why the rave reviews so far? Put simply, he's showed a little bit of everything.

Robertson is universally regarded as being the most consistent player on the circuit this season and that comes through having such an excellent all-round game. This will help him last the distance in such a long tournament and equips him to win a second world title.

His long-potting has been at its scary best, he's made plenty of big breaks at key moments in matches and has again showcased the great strides he's made in his safety game. His knowledge of the tactical side of the game has developed massively and he's a more patient player than ever before.

This winning combination makes beating him a huge task, of course. But it's his ability to rise through the gears during each match that makes him so well pruned for Crucible triumph.

In establishing a 10-6 lead against Gilbert after two sessions, he twice won three out of four frames after the mid-session. This ability to get away from his opponent at the crucial moments shows he can step it up when it matters.

Then, when his Tamworth opponent threatened a revival in the final session he switched to scrapping mode to get himself over the line. He takes his chances, stifles his opponent and varies his game to great effect.

Bigger tests are sure to come before he'll get the chance to lift the trophy, but I can't help feeling he still has more to give and is capable of controlling his opponents.

With a week down at the Crucible, Robertson's displays have been by far the most complete. He will take some stopping from here...

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