Robertson and Selby reach Masters final
Updated: Sunday, 20 Jan 2013 18:06
Defending champion Neil Robertson moved into the final of the Betfair Masters with a 6-2 defeat of Shaun Murphy.
The Australian, who beat Murphy 10-6 in last year's final, saw off the same opponent today at London's Alexandra Palace to set up a final against Mark Selby.
Robertson won the opening frame with a decisive break of 84. However, the Australian suffered in the second frame as he attempted to sink a red over a corner pocket, only for the ball to appear to roll off.
Murphy capitalised with a break of 48 which helped him to a 78-1 success which levelled the scores.
However, Robertson retained his composure in style, with a superbly crafted clearance of 132 restoring his lead in the clash of the 30-year-olds.
The same pocket which had upset Robertson undid both players in the next frame. Murphy giving away four points when he followed through into it with the white after potting a red with the rest, before the Australian missed a routine red.
A run of 45 helped Murphy to move 68 points clear with only 67 remaining in frame four, but Robertson got the snooker he needed and aided by a 25 clearance he went 3-1 up at the mid-session interval.
Murphy held his nerve to win a 39-minute fifth frame by sinking a pink down the cushion, reducing the arrears to 3-2.
However, he missed another red with the rest in frame six after putting 43 points on the board and Robertson stepped in with an 85 clearance to restore his two-frame advantage at 4-2.
Robertson moved to the brink of victory with a his second century break of the match - a 127 clearance - taking him three frames clear of Murphy after his opponent had missed a black off its spot.
And, after both players had missed the yellow twice in frame eight, Robertson sank it and the remaining colours to win the frame 62-56 and knock out the 2005 world champion.
Robertson, who himself won the world crown in 2010, told the BBC afterwards: "It's an amazing feeling to have the chance to defend my title.
"I've been pouncing on mistakes and making big breaks so it may be in the back of my opponents' mind that if they miss I can clear up.
"You've got to punish people. Shaun's a fantastic attacking player but I do feel quite comfortable with a tactical exchange.
"My potting gets me out of trouble a lot of the time but tomorrow's another day."
Meanwhile, Mark Selby edged out Graeme Dott in a final-frame decider in a dire semi-final that concluded after midnight to advance to the final.
Dott had breaks of 111 and 75 in establishing a 4-1 lead, and the man from Larkhall looked to have struck on top form.
The turning point in the match came at the end of the sixth frame, when both men missed frame ball before Selby rattled it in. Selby had left himself a fine cut on the pink to the green pocket and failed to sink it, leaving the ball for Dott who rammed it in the pocket.
He had everything to do to come down for the black on its spot though, and left the white ball short of the ideal position. Dott, with his confidence up, took it on, but he missed it and the black rattled around the jaws, settling over the pocket to give Selby an easy frame-clincher.
From the brink of 5-1 behind, Selby was instead only 4-2 in arrears, and he ground his way back to 4-4. It was attritional rather than in any way an attractive brand of snooker from the world number one, but it had the desired effect from Selby's perspective.
He looked set to make it 5-4 but Dott won frame nine on a respotted black having needed a snooker as the match time ticked past four hours.
It was a big blow for Selby but he pounced in frame 10 when Dott missed a brown to the centre pocked and took the match to a decider with a break of 65, then added a 53 in the last to complete a gritty comeback.
"I think the match was pathetic really," Selby told BBC2. "Both of us struggled. I just couldn't focus.
"It was just a matter of digging in and plodding on. I didn't feel comfortable out there. I felt really flat. If I can get a better night's sleep I think I should be okay tomorrow."