Neil Robertson has won the 2020 European Masters after an incredible 9-0 victory over Zhou Yuelong in the final on Sunday in Austria.
The sensational scoreline marks only the second time in the sport’s history that a ranking event of this length has been resolved with a whitewash.
Matches of this significance seem to hinge on significant moments but rarely do they happen as early as the opening frame.
After Robertson got in first, Zhou replied with a break of 47 before a long tactical battle eventually concluded with the former potting the pink to land the opening frame.
From there, it was one-way traffic as the Melbourne man scored breaks of 57, 99, and 128 to reach the afternoon’s mid-session interval 4-0 in front.
Such was Zhou’s dire circumstances that the Chinese competitor only accumulated 31 points for the remainder of the first session as Robertson added runs of 82 and 109 to establish an 8-0 lead.
The Chinese contender had an opportunity upon the evening’s restart to get on the scoreboard but Robertson was ruthless and duly completed the unbelievable rout.
Success for Robertson means that the 37 year-old has won a ranking event 13 times in the last 15 calendar years.
Indeed, such has been the former world number one’s consistency in the higher echelons of the game that there hasn’t been a single year since 2006 that he hasn’t won a title of some description.
The whitewash itself mirrors Steve Davis’ 10-0 defeat of Dean Reynolds in the final of the 1989 Grand Prix – the only other time that a two-session ranking event final resulted in a bagel finish.
The irony is Neil was docked a frame for late arrival in the first qualifying round in December. If he’d been half an hour or so later still he’d have been scratched from the event. As it is things have worked out quite well.
— David Hendon (@davehendon) January 26, 2020
It’s an embarrassing ending to what was an otherwise breakthrough tournament for his 22 year-old opponent.
How this one-sided loss will affect Zhou remains anyone’s guess but these are the kind of scars that will be difficult to recover from.
The former World Cup winner has been tipped as a star of the future but it could take a while for even the steeliest of competitors to recover from this kind of chastening.
For Robertson, the former world champion heads to next week’s German Masters obviously brimming with confidence.
The Champion of Champions is also in prime position to land the £150,000 bonus for finishing top of the inaugural European Series order of merit.
The player who performs the best after the completion of the 2020 European Masters, German Masters, Snooker Shoot Out, and the Gibraltar Open will receive the juicy jackpot.
As for the first ranking event in Austria, it finished with a disappointingly one-sided final but the crowds improved as the week progressed and Dornbirn has to be considered as a worthy venue.
Robertson certainly enjoyed the small city in central Europe and will walk away £80,000 richer and a record-equalling whitewash winner.