Neil Robertson and Ashley Hugill will face each other in the first round of the World Championship in Sheffield.
Neil Robertson’s season so far
What a spell of prosperity it has been for Neil Robertson, who has been the undeniable player of the 2021/22 snooker season.
The Australian has been a regular presence at the business end of events, capturing four notable pieces of silverware.
Robertson even missed the first couple of events of the campaign in the summer as he got married to his long-term partner.
After that, it was full steam ahead and an immediate victory in the English Open was followed in the first few months of 2022 with a hat-trick of huge trophies.
First came the Masters at the Alexandra Palace – a success that was quickly followed with another in the Players Championship when he beat the same opponent in the final in Barry Hawkins.
Earlier this month, Robertson defended his Tour Championship crown in spectacular fashion by fighting back from 9-4 down to pip John Higgins in a decider.
The 40 year-old may officially be ranked number three in the world, but he’s definitely the best player out there on current form.
Robertson won the World Championship a dozen years ago, and it continues to be a mystery why he hasn’t been able to put the package together again in Sheffield.
Could this be the year?
Ashley Hugill’s season so far
Ashley Hugill is one of three players making his debut in the World Snooker Championship this year, alongside Hossein Vafaei and Jackson Page.
The 27 year-old looked like he was heading for Q School after a forgettable season prior to his exploits in the world qualifiers.
Hugill fought his way through from the second qualifying round at the English Institute of Sport with three impressive victories that safeguards his professional status.
That might allow the Englishman to play with some freedom at the Crucible, but he couldn’t have asked for a harder draw.
Interestingly enough, Hugill won his only previous meeting with Robertson, way back at the 2016 German Masters qualifiers.
That fixture, played in a cubicle, and this one contested at the Crucible are two entirely different prospects, though.
Robertson has been in this position before where he has entered a World Championship as one of the heavy favourites, only to disappoint.
In the last three years the Melbourne man’s stumbling block has inevitably been the quarter-final stage, so that may be the initial objective to overcome.
If Robertson can replicate the kind of form he has produced this season – and crucially on a consistent basis throughout the 17 days – he’ll take a lot of stopping.
Hugill will probably enjoy the occasion of his debut regardless of the result, but in this match he’s likely to be out of his depth.
Prediction: Neil Robertson 10-3 Ashley Hugill
Monday, April 18th – 2:30pm
Tuesday, April 19th – 10am
Featured photo credit: WST