Robertson beats Rocket in 'snooker Ashes'

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  • Neil Robertson
    Australian professional snooker player

Australian star Neil Robertson has won snooker's much-touted 'Ashes battle' with English great Ronnie O'Sullivan, beating the Londoner in front of his own fans in an enthralling Masters quarter-final.

The left-hander from Melbourne silenced a partisan crowd on Thursday with his 6-4 triumph over their Alexandra Palace king, six-times world champion O'Sullivan.

The pair of good friends and rivals had been unable to resist comparing their Anglo-Australian battle to a certain cricketing duel going on thousands of miles away - and this time a pair of centuries from Robertson helped ensure a victory for the Baggy Green of the green baize.

Breaks of 119 and 130 were the keystones of Robertson's revenge act after he'd lost 10-8 to O'Sullivan in December's Grand Prix final in Coventry.

"I hit the ball fantastically well," Robertson said in his post-match tableside interview.

"I missed a couple of balls and so did Ronnie, but that's to be expected with a lot of stake.

"After the disappointment of losing to him last time, I was determined to put in a good performance and I think I did that.

"I'm really happy with that. Both of us could have played a bit better but my pot percentage was 96% and that tells you I wasn't making too many mistakes."

Seven-time Masters winner O'Sullivan had been in supreme form in the previous round against Jack Lisowski but looked out of sorts and was always playing catch up after Robertson reeled off the first two frames, racking up 202 points without reply.

The genie was having to show grit, one 102 break being O'Sullivan's only three-figure contribution of the match as he three times had to battle from behind to level at four frames apiece.

Yet Robertson, who'll on Saturday meet the winner of the quarter-final between fellow former world champs Mark Williams and John Higgins, kept his nerve as the 'Ally Pally' crowd roared O'Sullivan on.

"I know how much a Masters crowd can really carry a player - my Masters debut was against Jimmy White," Robertson said.

"So it was important I was able to hit back against him. I pulled off some brilliant pressure shots and gained momentum from that," added the 39-year-old, who's out to win his second Masters title after his last victory in the prestigious 'triple crown' event a decade ago.

O'Sullivan seemed to be struggling with the tip of his cue and bit it off in disgust straight afterwards.

"I never make any excuses, Neil was the better player today," he shrugged, when asked about the problem.

"Hopefully he goes on and wins it. I like Neil, he's a good man."

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