Sunday, 23 June 2013

Robertson raises the bar

Neil Robertson has set the standard for the season ahead.

The excellent Australian delivered the performance of a true champion to win the first full ranking event of the campaign in Wuxi.

He started the tournament well, got better and better and then produced one of his best ever displays in a final to land the silverware.
Picture by Tai Chengzhe

From 5-2 down, he won eight of the final ten frames to beat John Higgins 10-7 and become the Wuxi Classic champion for 2013.

While other top players are still finding their feet and blowing away the cobwebs from a mini summer break, Robertson has come flying out of the blocks and didn't even allow a steely Higgins to deny him the eighth ranking title of his career.

This win helps him to break further away from Mark Selby at the top of the world rankings and all the signs suggest that he could be getting ready for a bumper season. He has all the hallmarks of a modern day great. He can pot long balls and make big breaks but he is carefully honing other great qualities as well.

He knows how to bed his way into tournaments and gather momentum to produce his best when it matters, instead of hitting top form too early. He has a solid safety game, but looks to be deploying it more astutely instead of stifling his own attacking instincts.

He is the great all-rounder in the game right now and has set the bar for the rest of the field to try to meet this season.    

It's difficult to believe that Robertson once upon a time struggled for form in events in China. He's now won the last two events here in succession and has been in three of the past four finals. Wiping aside a disappointing first round exit at the Crucible in April, Robertson looks to have found his calling. He looks settled and ready for what could potentially become his golden spell.

On this showing, he looks ready to take the tour by storm this season and win many more title.

Victory in Wuxi is also poignant because it is the first tournament to be completed under Barry Hearn's new 128 flat draw structure. The playing field is level and everyone has the same opportunity.

But victory for Robertson - the current world number one - proves that no matter what the system, the best players will always prevail.

Robertson has shown us this week why he sits pretty at the top of the pecking order.

He has laid down his marker. It is up to the rest of the players to find a response.

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