Ahead of the upcoming World Championship, let’s have a look at how the top 16 seeds have been getting on during the interrupted 2019/20 campaign.
Neil Robertson’s season got off to a shaky start, but by the time of the enforced lockdown he was being heralded as Judd Trump’s fiercest rival.
Way back twelve months ago, Robertson was one of many who suffered travel woes and failed to reach Latvia in time for the Riga Masters – which for the Australian was a double blow as he was the reigning champion.
Not long after, the Melbourne man was then the laughing stock of the snooker scene when he drove to the wrong Barnsley for his qualifying match to the World Open.
Those kinds of mishaps didn’t do much to quell his reputation of being a scatterbrain when it comes to punctuality, but eventually the 38 year-old ultimately let his snooker do the talking again.
Before the turn of the year, Robertson failed to go beyond the last 16 of a ranking tournament.
One exception was his terrific performance in the invitational Champion of Champions, winning his last three matches in dramatic deciders to claim the trophy in Coventry.
Robertson edged Shaun Murphy and Ronnie O’Sullivan 6-5 before overcoming Trump 10-9 in a high-quality final that will live long in the memory for many snooker fans.
It took a while for the former world number one to replicate that kind of form again, but into January things rapidly improved.
Robertson reached three ranking event finals on the trot, first winning the European Masters at a canter courtesy of a crushing 9-0 humiliation of Zhou Yuelong in Austria.
Trump gained his revenge by denying Robertson back-to-back titles in Berlin, but the latter immediately returned to the champions circle as he edged out Graeme Dott for success in the World Grand Prix.
Heading into the rescheduled World Championship, many believe Robertson is in the kind of form in which he can finally launch a serious challenge to add to his solitary world crown.
It has been ten years since that momentous victory in Sheffield, and Robertson has only once made it back to the single table set-up at the Crucible since.
A difficult section of the draw has ensured that the “Thunder from Down Under” will likely have to do it the hard way, though.
Barry Hawkins, Mark Selby, and Shaun Murphy are in the same quarter, with Ronnie O’Sullivan also featuring in the bottom half.
Robertson has lost in the first round four times since 2010, so safely negotiating his opening challenge will be of the utmost concern, while doubts of course remain as to whether his form has been sustained during the recent break.
Even so, a heavy scorer and boasting a swaggering confidence when his play is in full motion, Robertson should be a threat this year.
Featured photo credit: WST