Neil Robertson staged an amazing fightback to deal Martin Gould, a former croupier, the cruellest of hands and book a place in the quarter finals of the World Snooker Championship with a 13-12 victory.
Robertson, so sure he was on his way out when he trailed 11-5 overnight had even checked out of his hotel. He will be spending tonight searching for accomodation with what was an unexpected extended stay in the Steel City.
Yet Gould was left to rue what might have been had he taken the last frame of the second session as the Australian put him on the rack for a scintillating spell of five frames this afternoon. Gould though was virtually frozen out as the Australian freewheeled his way through the first five frames of the afternoon to cut his deficit to 10-11.
It must have been soul destroying for Martin, but tak nothing away from Neil, who did not miss a ball in that five frame burst, and keeping Gould away from the table was having a devastating effect as Gould couldn’t establish any rhythm. It is awful to watch a player who holds such a commanding lead seeing it being gradually eroded, and the self confidence ebbing away in exactly the same manner.
From somewhere Gould though managed to take the the 22nd frame – pouncing on a Robertson mistake with one red left on the table. Robertson was left snookered on the last red and his escape presented Martin with the red to the corner from the shortest of range. Sinking the red Gould followed up with the brown and then cleared to the pink to move to within one frame of victory.
But if this was the Ashes then that was what Gould’s dreams were to be left in after Robertson fired in a quickfire 35 break. Gould though couldn’t take advantage of Robertson missing an easy brown and smashing the pack of reds up for him. And before he knew it the Australian was back at the table, and threw what was to be a sucker punch as he picked out a plant. The red on the top cushion looked to be covered by another, and given the distance between the two balls the plant was loaded with danger. If he missed it it would surely be all over for Neil, but the ball dropped, and on such fine margins matches are effectively decided.
Deciding that discretion was the better part of valour he opted to play safe and drew the inevitable mistake from Gould. Sinking a long green the Australian left the Englishman needing snookers that he wasn’t to get, and sent the match into a final frame shootout.
How Martin must be kicking himself because he had the first chance in the final frame only to miss a long red when in prime position on 40. Robertson knew his opponant was beaten mentally. The Australian was not about to let him off the hook as he stepped in and wrapped up the match and booked a quarter final clash with Steve Davis.
Elsewhere Graeme Dott wasted little time in polishing off Stephen Maguire 13-6 to set up a quarter final against Mark Allen. And Mark Williams roared back from 1-4 to be 4-4 with Ronnie O’Sullivan at the end of the first session.