Neil Robertson beat Ronnie O’Sullivan in the deciding frame to reach the final of the Tour Championship. Following an afternoon of high-class snooker at the Venue Cymru in Llandudno, both Robertson and O’Sullivan were slightly below the jaw-dropping play earlier. But in the end, Robertson had the last smile.
Neil Robertson made it three victories on the spin over Ronnie O’Sullivan by winning a final frame decider to advance to the final of the Tour Championship.
O’Sullivan came into the last-four clash with an 18-11 advantage in their meetings, and beat Robertson in the final of the World Grand Prix in December.
Six-time World Champion O’Sullivan hit five centuries on his way to a 9-8 lead in a repeat of last year’s final.
However, Robertson won the final two frames to triumph 10-9.
“It’s a huge win. He’s the best player ever. I thought it was a brilliant match.” said Australian Robertson.
“You won’t see better quality from two players than the first session today.”
The pair ended the afternoon session-level at four frames all, and after O’Sullivan, 46, took the first frame of the evening, Robertson edged ahead to lead 7-5 and then 8-6.
The Englishman responded to take the subsequent three frames, a break of 112, putting O’Sullivan within touching distance of victory and making him the first player in snooker history to score five centuries in successive matches.
He also hit five hundreds in his 10-9 quarter-final victory over Mark Williams.
Robertson tied the match again with victory in a nervy 18th frame before producing a match-winning break of 80 in the decider to reach his second successive Tour Championship final.
The Melbourne-born 40-year-old will now face either John Higgins or Luca Brecel for the title, and they play the second semi-final on Saturday.
“You always have to enjoy playing the greats of the game because you never know how long it is going to happen for,” said Robertson.
“Whenever I play the likes of John Higgins, Ronnie or Mark Williams I always savour the moment. These guys were idols of mine growing up. I never thought I would meet them let alone play them.”
O’Sullivan was full of praise for his opponent in a match in which only two of the 19 frames did not feature a break of at least 50 from one of the two players.
“Brilliant. He’s like that pretty much all the time now, the level he plays at,” said O’Sullivan, who beat Robinson in the first-ever Tour Championship final in 2019.
“He’s an incredible player, great to watch. It’s great to have him in the game.”