Neil Robertson became the third player through to the semi-finals of the inaugural Champion of Champions after a hugely dramatic day at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry.
All three encounters went to a deciding frame, with the world no.1 just about getting the better of Ali Carter in the third group final 6-5.
Earlier in the day, Robertson came from 3-1 down to Martin Gould to prevail 4-3 – evoking small memories of his famous comeback at the Crucible from 11-5 down en route to being crowned world champion in 2010.
Robertson started sluggishly and it looked for all money that the world no.1 was going to be making an early exit.
But the Australian isn’t ahead of the chasing pack through luck and a superb burst of attacking snooker, which has typified his season so far, earned him three quick frames in single-scoring visits – including back-to-back tons to finish.
It was tough on Gould who did little wrong other than miss a couple of good opportunites at the start of the fifth frame when he still enjoyed the two-frame cushion.
The Pinner Potter has had a steady if quiet campaign so far, making only one quarter-final appearance in a European Tour event, and he has struggled to find results against the bigger names for some time now.
The second tie was just as thrilling as Ali Carter came from 2-0 and 3-2 down to overcome Mark Allen in the another clincher.
‘The Captain’, who has missed a lot of this season so far following his cancer scare during the summer, looked rusty in the opening exchanges but slowly worked his way into the match and, when Allen missed an opportunity to advance in the sixth frame, Carter pounced to capitalise.
There was further drama in the post-match press conference as Northern Irishman Allen, no stranger to controversy over the years, claimed that his opponent resorted to “tricks and antics” in an effort to put him off while taking shots.
Carter later denied any intention by arguing that his chair made creaky noises when he was stretching to see one of Allen’s pots.
Allen, Ruhr Open and Kay Suzanne Memorial Cup winner in recent weeks, of course subsequently protested his innocence on social media site Twitter, proclaiming another media witch hunt against him.
It might be true that some stories are exaggerated by the press but let’s face it, if a player says that another tried to distract him – basically cheating – then obviously it’s going to be reported!
Anyway, Carter advanced to the group final, or tournament quarter-final as it were, to face Robertson in what would turn out to be another humdinger.
In a clash that boasted everything from big breaks to surprise misses to prolonged tactical battles, Wuxi Classic champion Robbo proved his worth as the top ranked cueist by clawing his away across the winning line in the eleventh and final frame.
By then, there had already been five centuries between them – three for Robertson, taking his tally for this season to an astonishing 49.
In a decider that ebbed one way and then the other, the key moment came when Carter missed the green on what was looking like a match winning clearance.
Moments later, Robertson was sinking the pink assured of the knowledge that he was the man continuing his adventure in the West Midlands.
It was a fantastic advert for the new tournament, one that is beginning to capture the imagination of the viewing public and is simultaneously garnering a significant degree of prestige as it is only contested between the elite.
Two of the most elite enter the fray on Friday with the remaining last four place up for grabs.
World champion Ronnie O’Sullivan and China’s superstar Ding Junhui, fresh off winning a hat-trick of ranking event titles, could be about to set up a mouth-watering clash.
First, though, they will have to emerge from what will surely be testy battles with Mark Davis and Barry Hawkins respectively.
Crowd levels have been decent for the first three days but apparently tickets have been sold out for Friday with the expectation of the launch of the ‘Rocket’, so there is sure to be an electric atmosphere today and throughout the weekend. .
am I right that Mark Allen told that Ali Carter made noises by his chair to distract him from the game? If so, it is very stupid. Is there any proof of this on Youtube? Well, I do not believe that Captain could do anything of that kind on purpose. Frankly speaking, Mr. Allen is a Luis Suarez in snooker in terms of having no decent behavior when you lose.
It seems that was what he was alleging. He seems to find it hard to hold his thoughts in but really he’s great for the game. Refreshing to have someone airing their opinions, whether those opinions are right or wrong.