Monday, 8 October 2012

A Polished performance

The true champions of our sport know how to win at all costs.

Neil Robertson is fast-becoming one of snooker's real winners.

At his best, the Aussie is a formidable force. He has been one of the best long-potters in the game since he first burst onto the professional circuit. It's now an insult to regard him as just that. These days, he has the break-building skill, tactical nous and big-match mentality to lay claim to being one of the best all-rounders.

He is quite the package combining the attributes of the modern-day player with some of the traditional ingredients of champions in past eras. And this is why many propose he could be - or become - one of the game's greatest foreign imports.

It is easy to understand on this basis why Robertson is held with such high esteem, but his capture of the Polish Open highlighted another of his developing strengths: his ability to win ugly.

As he raced into a 3-0 lead against Jamie Burnett in this European PTC final in Gdynia it looked as if he would win with ease. But plagued by kicks and tormented by his own frustration, he struggled to see out the match. In the closing stages it looked all the more like we might be witnessing the most unlikeliest of comebacks.

Robertson managed to find something in a scrappy decider to squirm past the winning post, and that's all that mattered.

He had his back to the wall but saw out the job. This ability to mix it up and win when it's not going so well will be a valuable tool in the years ahead as he strives towards more titles.

The likes of John Higgins and Stephen Hendry have always found a way to win even when it's not been easy and the ambitious Aussie will need to do exactly the same if he is to reach the level of these greats.

This may not always earn universal praise, but it remains essential.

Although not entirely polished, this Polish performance showed that Robertson is well on the way to acquiring all the skills he needs to achieve greatness. Victory here also showcases his fine consistency as he's now won a ranking event in each of the last seven seasons.

Well played Neil. You have many more titles to come.

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