Neil Robertson ended un uncharacteristic title drought by claiming the China Open in Beijing yesterday.
The Australian was always in comparative control in the final against new world no.1 Mark Selby after taking six of the opening session’s seven frames.
Despite Selby making a spirited comeback, he was ultimately left with too much to do and succumbed to a 10-6 defeat to Robertson.
But even in the 16th and what proved eventually to be the final frame, Selby demonstrated why he is the toughest nut to crack in the sport at the moment when he simply refused to give in.
Needing five snookers, he got four of them before Robertson finally put the outcome beyond doubt and duly unleashed his now customary victory roar of delight.
The triumph ends a wait of two and a half years since his previous ranking event title, which came at the World Open in late 2010.
Although the 31 year-old has mastered the Masters as well as lifted several PTC trophies in that time, it was unusual for a man of Robertson’s calibre to be left without success in bigger rankers.
This was especially the case given the fact he had won at least one ranking event in each calendar year between 2006 and 2010 – never losing in a final up until that point.
That run came to an end at the 2012 PTC Grand Finals with defeat to Stephen Lee and he then subsequently lost to Judd Trump at this season’s International Championship, which was also staged in the People’s Republic.
Then, and since, Robertson was still playing excellent snooker but the killer instinct that brought him the sustained glory, including a World Championship, deserted him in the latter stages.
That trait was back with a vengeance, though, and after coming from behind to beat Stephen Maguire in a close deciding frame finish to their semi-final encounter his tail was always going to be up.
Robertson will be equally content to have gained revenge on his opponent after defeats to Selby at both the UK Championship and the Masters (final) – which the latter went on to win in both.
The result also closes the gap between he and Leicester’s Selby in the world rankings and it is now very much a three-horse race as to who will end the campaign at the top spot – the pair jostling for position with Trump.
That said, it is unlikely that either one of them will be all too concerned with that stat and more so with the one of adding the World Championship to their glittering CVs.
In Robbo’s case, the Melbourse man will of course be seeking a second Crucible crown.
So with that ends the penultimate tournament of the season with Neil Robertson claiming his seventh ranking event.
Having won and finished runner-up in both of the last two tournaments, Robertson could rightly lay claim to being the favourite in Sheffield.
But then again, the likes of Selby, Trump, John Higgins, Shaun Murphy, Mark Allen and Stephen Maguire might of something to say about that.
And then there’s Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Crucible Countdown: 19 days!