Friday, 21 June 2013

Walking tall in Wuxi

The snooker season is still yet young but already we have two top players standing up above the rest.

Former world champions Neil Robertson and John Higgins met just a fortnight ago in the Bulgarian Open final and are odds on to lock horns again in another showpiece here in Wuxi.

Picture by Monique Limbos
The first major ranking event of the season carries an importance of its own and these two really look up for the test, but down to the final four, can either of them be toppled?

The Australian looks in excellent form and is getting better. He's shown the real hallmarks of a champion, stepping up his game every time he's asked a question.

The business end of a tournament is familiar ground for Neil and he definitely proved his experience when he met quarter-final debutant Cao Yupeng. The China star led 4-3 and was on the brink of victory until Robertson delivered two one-visit contributions to seal the match. This is what the best players do.

But next he faces Robert Milkins; and they have history. Neil lost to Milkins in the first round at the World Championship back  in April. The fear factor doesn't exist. Milkins knows he can take him and has been playing well for a while now.

Despite this win, Milkins will be the underdog again. But this a role he has often enjoyed playing.

Higgins is back to his old self and flying through the rounds with authority. He put an end to Joe Perry's terrific run and looks to have rekindled his determination and steely resolve.

The Scot has always had a knack of getting stronger as a tournament wears on and will be feeling good now he's got this far. Bidding for his second trophy inside a month, he probably goes into the semi-finals a shade the favourite to win the title.

But next he faces Matthew Stevens, who is looking to reach his second final in China of the year after the World Open in March.

The Welshman is going quietly about his business and looks to have hit some good form. He faces a big task against Higgins but will take the chances if he gets them and has beat every top player before.

 Bring on the semi-finals.

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