Robertson claims Champion of Champions crown ahead of UK meet
Lee Gormley | November 16, 2015
Robertson eases past Allen in Coventry
Australian potter Neil Robertson rallied to a comfortable Champion of Champions victory over Northern Irishman Mark Allen, with an emphatic performance in Coventry securing him a 10-5 triumph and the 100k prize money.
Robertson clinched a spot within the West Midlands tournament after winning the Gdynia Open earlier this year, and beat Rory McLeod, Yan Bingtao, Joe Perry, then finally Allen to lift the coveted trophy.
Breaks of 114, 71, and 69 helped the Thunder from Down Under emerge victorious, having built on his solid 6-3 first session lead, then seeing off a trivial Allen comeback to put himself in a strong position for the upcoming UK Championship, which he is 9/2 second-favourite with Coral to win as well.
Champion of Champions a success
Robertson’s victory was his first at this recently new event, with previous winner Ronnie O’Sullivan having opted not to defend the title, in a tournament which the newly-crowned champion believes has a big future.
“The support all week has been wonderful and this tournament is a real challenger as our fourth major of the season, it is absolutely amazing,” stated the Australian cueist.
“You have to win tournaments to get here, it is a brilliant tournament and conditions were wonderful.”
Robertson in fine form ahead of UK
Beaten finalist Allen, who impressively lifted the Bulgarian Open this year, began the match brightly with an early century break, but Robertson took command, asserting his dominance with a 4-1 lead.
That soon became a 6-3 gap at the mid-session interval, with Allen seemingly looking demoralised after the potting pair’s break in play. Despite appearing to spark a minor comeback, Robertson responded to Allen’s attempts to claim a crucial 52-minute 12th frame, before capping off victory in the next.
“I started off and first session I played really, really well, second session was a bit tighter and overall I was really happy,” declared Robertson.
“This is the first major title I have picked up in over 12 months now so it is nice to be able to break the duck there and now I can move on for the rest of the season.”
Allen defeat disappointing
Robertson has since become the second-favourite for a second UK crown in the coming weeks, having won the Barbican Centre event back in 2013, while his Champion of Champions opponent and former York finalist Allen is 16/1.
“[Neil] played very, very well in spells and showed why he is a former world champion and former world number one,” Allen stated after his final defeat.
“I am disappointed with the way I played myself, I had more than enough chances in different parts of the match but I just wasn’t up to it today.”
The snooker focus will now switch firmly to York, where many of the Champion of Champions competitors will look to clinch the sport’s second biggest prize; that prestigious UK Championship crown.
Trump leading UK contender
Bristol’s Judd Trump, 2011 champion, has been instilled as the tournament’s front-runner at 4/1, despite losing to Kyren Wilson in his opening Champion of Champions clash, while world number one Mark Selby is 13/2 and reigning Crucible king Stuart Bingham is 16/1 for a UK coup.
Just like the recent Coventry event, the current champion O’Sullivan will not be defending his title in York, having missed the deadline for entering.
A spokesman for World Snooker said: “The deadline for entering the tournament was yesterday and Ronnie has not entered so he will not be competing in York. We have had fantastic advance ticket sales and we’re looking forward to a great event.”
Rocket-less in York
The four-time tournament winner previously cited health issues for his absence, after a battle with insomnia, claiming he would not be able to handle coming up against the sport’s big guns on the baize in his current state.
“Just as much as I’d like to have been playing in the major competitions, my doctor has told me in no uncertain terms that he doesn’t think it is wise for my health situation,” stated O’Sullivan.
“The thought of competing against the top guys in such a state is a big no-no.
“Other people will want me to play irrelevant of how my health is. To them I’m merely Ronnie O’Sullivan the snooker player. I sell tickets, I’m good for television, I’m good for the media, but to heck with his health. They don’t really give a damn.”
O’Sullivan turns 40 on December 5th, a day before this year’s UK final, but the Rocket will definitely not be taking to the York baize to defend his coveted crown, leaving another open field for snooker’s greatest stars at the Barbican Centre.
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