Ray Reardon Trophy
Finals, News

Neil Robertson Raises Ray Reardon Trophy

Neil Robertson held off a gallant comeback from Stuart Bingham to lift the Welsh Open’s Ray Reardon Trophy in Cardiff.

In a see-saw encounter which followed the trend of the majority of Home Nations finals that have resulted in close scorelines, the Aussie edged it 9-7.

It marks Robertson’s second Welsh Open crown and comes a dozen years after his first when he denied Andrew Higginson in an equally dramatic showdown that went the distance.

While that victory represented Robertson’s second ranking title, the 37 year-old has rarely stopped winning since and Sunday’s success brought his tally to an impressive 15 – level in sixth with Mark Selby on the all-time winners list.

It also extends a remarkable streak that has seen the Melbourne man claim silverware in a professional tournament in each calendar year since 2006.

That level of consistency throughout his career, as well as the £70,000 top prize that he collected at the Motorpoint Arena, has helped his overall earnings from the sport eclipse £4 million.

Robertson, who compiled a 147 break against Jordan Brown in the first round on Tuesday, began his bid to etch his name onto the Ray Reardon Trophy strongly by taking the opening two frames of the contest.

Bingham actually possessed a superior head-to-head record but an unusual statistic had seen him lose 13 frames on the spin against his fellow former world champion – including their previous two clashes that ended in bagel defeats.

The 2017 Welsh Open champion appeared jittery from the outset but finally broke his duck in the third frame.

Robertson was scoring the heavier and, at 5-2 in front, was in danger of running away with it but a timely 102 from Bingham – his 11th century break of the tournament – reduced the arrears to just two frames at the conclusion of the opening session.

A tense and nervy evening bout of play followed as neither player truly settled amid a succession of frames that could have gone either way.

Robertson, the 2010 world champion, seemed set to dominate again when he opened up a four-frame gap for the first time to lead 7-3.

But Bingham responded by taking four frames on the spin – including what looked like a crucial 12th on the black – to restore parity.

Both competitors had opportunities to steal an important march but it was Robertson who regained his composure to move back in front at a critical time.

The Aussie, who twice came from two frames down with three to spare earlier in the tournament, subsequently compiled an excellent run of 83 to seal the victory.

Adding to his 2017 Scottish Open success, Robertson’s triumph means that he is only the second player after Bingham to capture two Home Nations titles since the series was launched three years ago.

It was a disappointing end to Bingham’s challenge as he was trying to add a second this season following his victory in the English Open in October.

Robertson is a serial winner, though, and he heads into a lucrative section of the calendar as one of the form players.

“It feels amazing, it’s a huge relief more than anything,” said the former world number one.

“The first thing that comes to mind is how proud I am to withstand the barrage that Stuart put on me from 7-3 to 7-7 and the way I won that last frame is just incredibly satisfying.”


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