Neil Robertson played perfect matchplay snooker to beat Judd Trump 6-3 in the semi-finals of The Masters at Alexandra Palace.
Shaun Murphy will be the Australian’s opponent in the final after a brilliant 6-4 victory over world champion John Higgins in the second semi-final.
Robertson was in complete control throughout the contest and proved that experience can still count for a lot despite his young opponent’s apparent dominance in recent months.
To add spice to a rivalry that could encapsulate the sport in the years to come, both players had choice words to say about one another in their post match comments.
Robertson immediately spoke of the motivation he received from Trump’s own friends in the crowd, who he said were disrespectfully loud at inappropriate moments.
In contrast, 22 year-old Trump complained of the Aussie’s alleged slow play and claimed that if he had been on his A-game the result would have been very different.
Coming only days after another of the young pretenders in Mark Allen stated that he “lost interest” midway through his first round match with the former world champion and it should be considered as music to Robertson’s ears that he is causing his closest rivals so much trouble.
A bit of friction in sport is always welcomed and it could be argued that snooker players have been too buddy-buddy in the past.
It is important to maintain respect for one’s opponent but needle can add to the drama of a match – something which is great for both players and fans alike.
Trump had come into this encounter having beaten Robertson in the last two BBC events – although the latter did enjoy triumph in the final of the Alex Higgins International Trophy – but Robertson dominated proceedings from the outset with controlled, measured play that had Trump visibly rattled.
Indeed, the scoreline could have been much worse had the Melbourne man not missed a glorious chance to seal a 6-1 victory but withstood a mini revival from Trump to surge into his first Masters final.
Robertson has a wonderful record in finals with an impressive 100% record from the eight finals he has played in his career so far and will probably start as favourite tomorrow against Murphy.
That said, the Englishman was back to his devastating best against Higgins – his fluid cue action returning to where it was when he lifted the world and UK titles.
Higgins wasn’t anywhere near the standard most of us are more accustomed to when the Scot is in action, with a succession of relatively routine pots missed, but Murphy was relentless in amongst the balls – highlighted by the fact he compiled three centuries in the six frames he won.
If Murphy was to win tomorrow he would become only the eighth player to lift all three major trophies after Terry Griffiths, Steve Davis, Alex Higgins, Stephen Hendry, John Higgins, Mark Williams and Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Either way, there’ll be a new name on the famous Waterford Crystal trophy and tomorrow’s final promises to be a classic between two of the game’s most consistent players of the last five years.