Neil Robertson has won the China Open for a second time after a resounding 11-4 victory over Jack Lisowski on Sunday in Beijing.
The Australian produced a clinical display to overcome Lisowski in a title decider for the second time this season.
By collecting the massive £225,000 champion’s cheque, Robertson will rise back to number four in the world rankings.
This has potentially important ramifications in terms of the Melbourne man’s hunt for a second world title later this month in Sheffield.
Robertson will now avoid the likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump, and Mark Allen – three of the best players this season – until the final at the Crucible.
The 37 year-old himself could lay claim to being the best competitor of the 2018/19 campaign.
Robertson began this term with a Riga Masters success over Lisowski in Latvia and has since featured in five more ranking event finals.
Indeed, Robertson has been so consistent of late that he has contested the final of each of the last four tournaments he’s participated in.
Only O’Sullivan has managed to evade the “Thunder from Down Under”, denying Robertson glories in both the Players and Tour Championships last month.
Robertson, who also triumphed in February’s Welsh Open, has enjoyed a remarkable transformation since briefly dropping out of the top 16 at the end of 2017.
He was only outside the elite bracket for a week but it proved to be enough for him to miss out on an invite to the prestigious Masters last season.
The mishap seemed to spur the 2010 world champion back into action, though, and he immediately bagged silverware in the 2017 Scottish Open.
Since then, Robertson has risen back to where he belongs at the highest echelons of the sport and this victory in China represents a 16th career ranking title.
That figure takes him above Mark Selby and into sixth place alone on the all-time winners list.
Robertson is now the clear second favourite in the World Championship betting behind O’Sullivan and there’s an opportunity to punt on more of your favourite games in this review of a sportsbook.
The China Open final proved to be a disappointing one-sided affair as Lisowski offered little in the way of a serious challenge.
The 27 year-old, bidding for a maiden professional title, missed a red early in the first frame that set the precedent for the entire match.
Robertson responded with a classy 86 and his scoring power throughout the day thereafter rarely halted.
The former world number one mixed centuries of 141 and 100 with several additional frame-winning contributions.
Lisowski had a few chances but was increasingly under pressure as the margin widened and the mistakes duly escalated.
The Cheltenham cueist will be hoping that if he ever finds himself in a position to win a tournament again, Robertson won’t be the man sitting on the other side of the table.
Still, it prolongs a positive season for the “Dude” that has seen him guarantee an automatic spot in the World Championship and he’s now on the cusp of a berth in the top 10 for the first time.
Neil Robertson, along with O’Sullivan, is the man to beat at the moment and the pair will be among the heavy favourites in Sheffield when this year’s marathon of the mind gets under way in just a couple of weeks.