Snooker News

Australian Open Final Preview

Neil Robertson and Judd Trump will contest the Australian Goldfields Open final after emerging from their last four clashes unscathed in Bendigo.

Australian OpenTrump’s prolific scoring power proved too much for challenger Xiao Guodong as he compiled big breaks of 114, 101, 94, 69 and two 67s en route to a 6-3 triumph over the Chinese.

In the second semi-final Robertson survived a mid-match blip to eventually complete a relatively comfortable 6-2 victory over Mark Davis.

The result is an intriguing battle between two of the sport’s most exciting players.

For much of 2011 and 2012, 24 year-old Trump had been considered as the player most likely to dominate the circuit and this appeared to come to fruition when capturing the inaugural International Championship title, where he beat Robertson, earned him the world no.1 position in the rankings.

Yet, that remains his last ranking event title following an almost two-year spell where he has been somewhat stuck in the doldrums.

Trump has been forced to watch as the likes of Robertson, Ding Junhui, Mark Selby and Ronnie O’Sullivan make up the Big Four – something that undoubtedly would not sit well with a competitor who oozed so much, some might argue too much, confidence initially.

Signs that the former UK champion was regaining his form flickered towards the tail end of the last campaign when Trump reached the final of the German Masters, was narrowly beaten by Robertson in the quarter-finals at the Crucible, and ended an 18-month wait for silverware by adding the Championship League trophy to his collection in March.

This week so far, Trump has benefited from his scoring prowess, which was traditionally his A-game but what ultimately deserted him in his hiatus from the top.

The fact that he was able to tough out tight encounters with Alan McManus and Ricky Walden earlier on in the week also told a story of how his battling qualities have similarly returned.

Yet, the Englishman will need all of those traits working in unison tomorrow and more if he is to deny his opponent glory on home turf.

Robertson has started this season in the exact same fashion as he did 12 months ago, by capturing the Wuxi Classic before embarking on a run to the final Down Under.

In 2013 the 32 year-old missed out on successive successes by falling to Hong Kong’s Marco Fu so he will be desperate to go one better on Sunday to please his legion of fans.

Having already won the world, UK and Masters in what is continuously becoming a stellar career, one suspects that the main thing Robertson feels his CV is missing is an Australian Open victory.

The Melbourne man has not always been at his best this week but the key to a substantial amount of his success is that he doesn’t need to be, instead pooling on a wealthy resource of a determined, focused attitude and a reserved temperament.

Even if Trump can continue his heavy break-building in the final it is unlikely to faze Robertson into making unruly mistakes.

While Robertson has his target, so too will Trump have an agenda of his own.

For too long he has watched as Robertson and Ding pull away from him in the ranking titles tally.

Indeed, an incredible nine out of the last 15 ranking events have been won by either one of the pair.

Trump stands at a lowly three for now but has plenty of time on his side.

He will be determined to narrow the gap and his form would suggest that will materialise sooner rather than later.

However, Trump might have to wait just that little bit longer as Robertson’s will to win his home tournament may be the deciding factor in this mouth-watering finale.

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