Neil Robertson and Jack Lisowski will face each other in the second round of the World Snooker 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 last 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?
Jack Lisowski’s season so far
After a 2020/21 campaign in which he came so close to breaking his ranking event duck, this term has been less promising for Lisowski.
Only one semi-final appearance and one other quarter-final run do not make for particularly good reading.
Lisowski was able to hang on to a place in the top 16 mostly on the back of his results last year, but next term could be a struggle with so many points to defend.
Now 30, the Englishman is at a stage of his career where he should be utilising his talent to push himself forward to the higher echelons.
There is a constant battle between his natural desire to produce attacking snooker and the obvious need for him to develop a more tactical B-game approach.
Lisowski’s failure to listen to the advice pertaining to the latter is the primary reason he loses so many matches he should win.
What happened in the last 32?
For most of his first-round encounter with Ashley Hugill, Robertson looked assured and dominant.
But at 9-3 in front, he needlessly played on for snookers in an attempt to get the game won before the mid-session interval.
With rhythm lost, Hugill managed to take advantage and win another couple of frames, and while this wasn’t important in the context of the match’s result, it is important in terms of Robertson’s overall chances in the event.
Too often in the past in Sheffield, Robertson has got himself bogged down and methodical for no reason whatsoever, frequently to his own detriment.
Whether that will play a bigger part in the outcome of his chances this year remains to be seen.
Lisowski, meanwhile, prevailed in a topsy-turvy affair with Matthew Stevens that ended 10-8 in the Englishman’s favour.
Neil Robertson and Jack Lisowski last encountered each other at the same stage of last year’s World Championship.
The former emerged as a 13-9 winner, and overall Robertson boasts a far superior head-to-head advantage with ten wins to Lisowski’s one.
That sole success came in a nondescript Championship League affair over the best of five frames, so it’s fair to say that the odds are against Jackpot.
On his day Lisowski is a world beater, but the unfortunate thing for him over longer distances is that he has to be on his day consistently.
That just doesn’t seem likely, and Robertson will pick off Lisowski’s inevitable mistakes to reach his usual stumbling block of the quarter-finals.
Prediction: Neil Robertson 13-8 Jack Lisowski
Saturday, April 23rd – 7pm
Sunday, April 24th – 2:30pm
Monday, April 25th – 7pm
Featured photo credit: WST