Neil Robertson edges out Judd Trump in thrilling UK Championship final
Neil Robertson says the greatest break of his career helped banish his ranking event final demons to clinch a hat-trick of UK Championship wins, writes Will Jennings.
The Bottisham-based world No 3 won a late-night epic against Judd Trump under the Marshall Arena lights in Milton Keynes to complete the tournament treble and make amends for his two previous defeats in finals this season.
It was gripping, nip and tuck snooker throughout as both heavyweights exchanged blow after blow before the Australian, 38, finally sealed a heart-thumping encounter 10-9 in the early hours of Monday morning.
Robertson, who trains at WT's Sports Bar, now a 19-time ranking event winner, is one of the finest break-builders of all time but admits his clutch 72 clearance to level at 9-9 was the best of the lot and prevented Trump ‘sensing blood' ahead of the rest of the season.
“That’s a very proud moment because some of the balls I dropped in were very difficult,” said the 2010 world champion, who kick-started that gusty visit in the 18th with a brilliant brown to the middle pocket.
“To pot that brown and then clear up was something John Higgins or Stephen Hendry would do at their best. Under the circumstances, absolutely (it was the best break of my career).
“If I’d lost three finals in a row I would have said all the right things but it would have absolutely killed me. I’m not sure I’ve lost three in a row before.
“And you don’t want to lose too many finals in a row to Judd, because then he’ll sense blood every time he plays you and take full advantage. It was so important I won.
“I thought it was all over, was getting my runners-up speech ready, and to lose my third final in a row would have been really disappointing.
“It was probably the bravest shot I’ve ever taken on in my career, the brown in the middle. If I miss it, I lose. It was a match that was full of highlights, unbelievable misses, great tension and even without a crowd, I’m sure everyone at home really enjoyed it.
“To win three of these is amazing – it’s something I’ve seen (Stephen) Hendry and Ronnie (O’Sullivan) and John (Higgins) over the years. I think when you can win three of one of the Triple Crown events, that makes it really special.”
Robertson, who lost the English Open and Champion of Champions finals against Trump and Mark Allen, went into the pulsating evening session with the world No 1 at six frames apiece after a mesmerising afternoon in Milton Keynes.
2019 world champion Trump struck breaks of 79, 58 and then 128 but majestic efforts of 110, 103 and 69 from Robertson meant nothing could separate them heading into the interval.
The see-saw contest continued but when Trump took the lead at 9-8, he had a golden opportunity to surge clear and scoop his second UK Championship title.
He missed a crucial pot with the trophy looming, however, allowing Robertson to sink that bold brown and clear the table to tee up a nerve-jangling decider.
And what a final frame it was. The 14th lasted 51 minutes as Trump restored parity but the 19th went on for well over an hour, as a clash for the ages unfolded at the Marshall Arena.
Robertson looked poised to complete his UK Championship treble but when a missed pink gave Trump a lifeline, a brilliant right-handed green – screwed back towards the baulk cushion – hauled him back into contention.
But the pink also proved Trump’s nemesis as the 19-time ranking event winner missed and allowed Robertson to drill in and finally clinch an epic clash shortly after 1am on Monday morning.
Robertson is acutely aware of just how special the spectacle was – and reckons it eclipsed the fabled Steve Davis against Dennis Taylor ‘black ball’ World Championship final 35 years ago.
“That last frame was absolutely ridiculous,” he added. “There was more drama in that last frame than what there was in the Dennis Taylor vs Steve Davis final. We were both coming out of snookers, fluking snookers back. We were both thinking ‘I’ve won, I’ve lost, I’ve won, I’ve lost.’ I’ve never been involved in a match like that that went that long.
“I can’t tell you how happy I am that I’ve got the trophy next to me.”
* The UK Championship was LIVE on Eurosport and Eurosport app. Follow all the latest tournament news on Eurosport.co.uk