Defending champion Neil Robertson pulled out all the stops to make it through his first-round Betfair Masters, winning the last three frames to beat Ding Junhui 6-5.

In the opening match of this year`s tournament at London's Alexandra Palace, the Australian looked set for an early exit as the unflappable Ding opened up a 5-3 lead, scoring heavily.

But Robertson showed the steel needed to be a champion and dug in, saving his best until the late stages with runs of 100, 62 and 90, and a hands-aloft celebration towards the end of the decider showed how much it meant.

It looked as though Robertson would squander a 2-0 lead he had earned in a low-scoring and scrappy opening.

He let Ding off the hook in the third frame, having had him tight in behind the brown and only escaping a snooker at the fourth attempt. Rather than cash in, though, Robertson left a red on the side cushion which Ding sank to begin a break of 103.

It was soon 2-2, Ding shading the fourth despite breaking down when well placed on 53, while the next two frames were shared, with Ding's sixth-frame 127 the highlight.

The Chinese would take the next and lead for the first time in the process, clinging on despite sliding a red wide of the corner when he was on 20, although he was much better in the eighth, moving to the brink of victory with a long-range pink the highlight of a 54 break.

Robertson suddenly found an extra gear, though, rattling in a break of 100 to reduce the gap, although he then had some fortune in making it 5-5.

Ding had one foot in the quarter-finals when he got to 50 on a break, but his attempt to split a small pack off the blue went wrong and he was left with no clear shot, resorting to safety and then letting Robertson in for a brilliant 62.

With the bit between his teeth Robertson duly finished the job in the decider, a long red the start of a match-winning 90.