Neil Robertson on World Snooker Championship struggles: ‘There’s nothing worse than last year’


Neil Robertson feels he is ready to put his Crucible struggles behind him (Picture: Getty Images)

Neil Robertson has a far better record than most players at the Crucible, but has still had a surprising lack of success in Sheffield for a man of his immense talents. However, he feels he has learned from his mistakes and is ready to succeed this time round.

The 39-year-old won the world title in 2010 and has been to two other semi-finals, but since that last run to the last four in 2014 he has been to just three quarter-finals and twice lost in the first round.

For a player who has been consistently one of the very best in the world for much of that time, it is strange that he has not been a contender in the latter stages of the World Championship more regularly.

The Australian has lost to some elite players in that time, with his last two Crucible defeats coming against Mark Selby and John Higgins, but he feels he has been sucked into playing a game that suits his opponents.

His clash with Selby in last year’s quarter-final appeared at least a 50-50 game, if not one that Robertson was favourite for, but the Jester saw him off relatively comfortably 13-7.

Robertson was annoyed with himself that he tried to take on Selby at his own game, a more tactical affair of attrition, and insists he will not be making the same mistake again, saying there is ‘nothing worse’ than that experience.

‘I think the penny’s dropped with the kind of matches I need to be involved in to be successful as a player,’ Robertson told a press conference after thrashing Liang Wenbo 10-3 in round one this year.

‘With the way I want to play the game and how I do play the game, it’s pretty simple, play the matches on my terms and don’t be worried about the other guy scoring off your mistakes.

‘Over the last seven or eight years, I blitz my opponents in the first couple of rounds and people start saying: “His name’s on the trophy.” That happened a couple of years ago when I beat Shaun [Murphy].

‘When you run into opponents that make it incredibly tough for you and the onus is on me to make it an aggressive game, when I’ve realised that’s the case the match was already gone or already in their favour and I couldn’t wrestle it back.’

Mark Selby beat Neil Robertson in Sheffield last year (Picture: Getty Images)

The Thunder from Down Under comes into the Crucible as the reigning UK champion and having stormed to victory at the Tour Championship, just prior to arriving at Sheffield.

He is full of confidence and ready to impose his own game on others, as he did against Liang in round one and has he prepares to take on Jack Lisowski in the last 16, starting on Thursday evening.

‘The most important thing is to play the game on my terms and be confident,’ he said. ‘I think I showed, especially during the Tour Championship and UK Championship that playing the game on my terms, free-flowing, not getting involved in the scrappy side of things, it’s led to a lot of success.

‘It’s about respecting the early rounds here so you can get to the one-table set-up. It’s about being there every session, I’ve got to play my way, win or lose, it doesn’t matter.

‘There’s nothing worse than last year, I lost and thought: “Why did I get involved with that type of match?” I promised myself never to do it ever again and that’s worked well this season.’

Robertson and Lisowski play on Thursday evening (7pm), Friday afternoon (2.30pm) and Saturday morning (10am) in a race to 13.


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