Aussie 'Thunder' lets snooker's best worry

·2-min read

Australia's king of the baize Neil Robertson is happy for all of his rivals to worry about his current dazzling form as he aims to win his second World Snooker Championship title.

Since he lifted the sport's biggest prize at the Crucible in 2010, the 39-year-old from Melbourne, one of the sport's most celebrated overseas performers, has only reached the semi-finals once.

Away from Sheffield, though, 'the Thunder from Down Under' has continued to collect plenty of silverware, with 20 career ranking titles to his name.

And last month's emphatic 10-4 defeat of Ronnie O'Sullivan in the Tour Championship final has again seen him touted as a leading contender to secure another world crown.

Following Thursday's draw, third seed Robertson was paired against China's Liang Wenbo, while six-times champion O'Sullivan will open his defence against debutant Mark Joyce.

"The way I have been playing this season, I am not really too worried about who I am playing," said Robertson, who opens his account on Saturday.

"If you ask Liang, he probably won't be too happy about the draw, whereas I am not really too fussed on who I am playing. It is about how I approach the game.

"If I play well, I think I will win. It will be a tough game, but hopefully I will have too much (for him).

"I have just got to concentrate on people being worried about what I can bring to the match, rather than stopping other people from playing. I have just got to go out to attack as well as I can."

The 2021 tournament begins on Saturday and will see fans return to the Crucible as part of the Government pilot programme following the easing of lockdown restrictions in England, with organisers hopeful a capacity crowd will be able to attend the final.

Robertson, who has not returned to Australia for 20 months because of the pandemic, said: "I am going to have a policy this year of where I am not stopping for socially-distanced selfies or signing anything.

"You just can't afford to do that on the ridiculous chance of catching it. It would be pretty disastrous."

Despite the easing of restrictions allowing haircuts again, Robertson has not yet opted for a trip to the barbers as his barnet has reverted to its curly natural state.

"The owner of my snooker club said I can't get it cut. He said, 'you will lose all of your power if you get your hair cut - like Samson'," he joked.

"It is more like a lion's mane now, so if I get my hair cut and get beat, then everyone will blame it on the haircut!"