Defending champion Neil Robertson secured a dramatic victory over Shaun Murphy on the final black to reach the semi-finals of the Wuxi Classic today in China.
After a scrappy encounter that played foul to dodgy conditions inside the arena, Robertson won the eighth frame with a 95 break to force a decider.
There, he found himself 40 points behind with just two reds remaining as Murphy missed his golden chance to seal the win for himself.
But in typical Robertson fashion, the 2010 world champion beat the 2005 Crucible king with a gutsy clearance that continued his reign in the first ranking event of the new campaign.
Robertson, though, was left unimpressed by the set-up as both players struggled to adapt to the humidity and damp conditions.
The 32 year-old said on Twitter afterwords that he “feel(s) for Shaun though as we were both made to look stupid by the conditions. Don’t know any other sport where this happens.”
Robertson continued, “Time for a change of cloth we use…All the players have had enough of this. Last year the conditions were great as there was not humid weather.”
“But as soon as it rains (and) once the humidity gets inside, the tables are so unpredictable. Sometimes you get away with it but a lot of the times you don’t.”
Robertson, and indeed Murphy for that matter, have never been shy about making their opinions known regarding issues such as the cloth, balls and the encompassing problem that is a kick.
They both have valid points in that the powers that be should strive to produce the best playing conditions possible for players as consistently as possible.
However, to suggest that other sports don’t have to deal with external factors is simply ludicrous.
All outdoor sports must deal with the state of the weather for one.
Of course in an ideal world, everything would be laid out in the same way in every event but the reality is that isn’t possible.
At any rate, it’s the same for both players and whomever’s ability to deal with the conditions best is another element to overcome in not just snooker, but almost every sport.
Anyway, Robertson marches on and he will face Barry Hawkins for a place in the final after the Englishman also prevailed in a tense tussle with Marco Fu.
This clash too went the distance as the ‘Hawk’ withheld a spirited fight back from his opponent to knock in an 89 in the final frame for victory.
The former Australian Open champion also had runs of 64, 73, 70 and 53 in what was a pretty high-scoring affair.
In the bottom half of the draw, Joe Perry took advantage of playing the lowest ranked player remaining by ousting Finland’s Robin Hull 5-2.
Perry was taking no chances with Hull as he had already seen the damage he was capable of in this tournament, particularly in his success over Graeme Dott in which he knocked in a brace of big tons, and quickly raced into a 3-0 lead with impressive breaks of 137, 74 and 70.
Hull fought well and almost got back into the tie when he won two out of the next three frames but a 60 from Perry in the eighth frame sent the Crucible qualifier packing.
Hull should be content with his performances, though, and galvanised by the fact that he could do a lot of damage if he decides to commit to travelling the circuit this season.
Perry, seeking to collect silverware in a ranking event for the first time in his career at the age of 39, will face another attempting to do likewise in Martin Gould.
Gould, like Robertson, came from 4-3 down to Stephen Maguire and 57 points down in the deciding frame to pip his Scottish opponent on the final black in a thoroughly entertaining contest.
Maguire appeared to grab a stranglehold on the match when he won three in a row, including a marvelous 145 break, to reverse a 2-0 deficit and establish a 3-2 advantage but Gould hung on and benefited from a lucky safety in the last to clinch a nervy clearance.
An exciting conclusion in story then as the Wuxi Classic reaches the business end of proceedings in China.