/ Snooker

Neal Robertson reels of three frames on the trot to get past Ding Junhui in opening round of the Snooker Masters

Updated: Sunday, 13 Jan 2013 21:44 | Comments

The Aussie cue man came good when it mattered at the Ally Pally
The Aussie cue man came good when it mattered at the Ally Pally

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.

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