Robertson and Perry Seek Wuxi Win

Neil Robertson continued his strong defence of the Wuxi Classic by reaching the final after a 6-3 victory over Barry Hawkins in China.

The Australian will play close friend and former practice partner Joe Perry on Sunday following the Englishman’s battling 6-4 success over Martin Gould in the other last four clash.

Robertson and Hawkins shared the first six frames in what was a high-quality opening to the contest.

Robertson led with breaks of 128 and 59 early on before his challenger replied with runs of 86 and 62 to level at the interval.

Two more breaks over 50 ensured parity and it looked as though the match could be heading for a dramatic and tight conclusion.

However, the game became scrappier in the subsequent frames, which favoured the Australian as he remained typically composed to grind out the win.

The result means that the 32 year-old will contest his 15th ranking event of what is becoming a very illustrious career.

Robertson has already emerged victorious in nine of those showdowns and victory on Sunday would draw him level with one of the sport’s all-time legends in Jimmy White.

Perry, meanwhile, is searching for his maiden title as he approaches his 40th birthday.

The ‘Gentleman’ featured in the European Open final way back in 2001 but lost 9-2 to Scot Stephen Hendry.

Perry was able to join the professional winners’ enclosure last year when he captured the Yixing Open title but success in Wuxi would be yet another step up in achievement.

In his semi-final contest, the first four frames were shared before Perry appeared to take control by winning the next three to establish a dominant 5-2 lead.

Yet, known for his inability to get over the winning line in major semi-finals such as the World and UK Championship in the past, where he twice lost in damning deciders, Perry did his best to allow his opponent back into the tie.

Gould won two on the spin but was unable to get back on level terms, much to the relief of Perry, and it was the latter that advanced to meet the favourite Robertson.

One positive note for Perry is that he will know Robertson’s game inside out having spent hours upon end practicing with him in the past.

The pair have actually met 18 times in all competitions with the stats only marginally favouring the Melbourne man with 9 wins to Perry’s 8 – the other match in the 2008 Championship League ended in a draw.

An intriguing end to the first ranking event of the season in store then.

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