Neil Robertson and Mink Nutcharut secured an unlikely triumph in the World Mixed Doubles on Sunday in Milton Keynes.
The duo had been among the favourites for the title at the start of the weekend’s play but found themselves facing an uphill battle after Saturday’s opening two fixtures ended in defeat.
With only two points from two frames won, Robertson and Nutcharut needed a specific set of results to happen in the final round-robin games in order to advance to the final.
So it materialised, with the pair combining for an excellent 4-0 triumph against Judd Trump and Ng On Yee on Sunday afternoon before Ronnie O’Sullivan and Reanne Evans lost to Mark Selby and Rebecca Kenna.
The latter’s 3-1 success meant they topped the group with a hat-trick of wins, defying their outsiders tag from before the tournament began.
By contrast, Robertson and Nutcharut’s sole victory in the league phase proved to be enough to seal second place and a berth in the final as well.
The title-deciding contest began in favour of the table-toppers, with Selby compiling a 107 century break to get the English team off the mark.
But Robertson responded with a 69 contribution, and the Australian and his Thai teammate – who had earlier constructed a nerveless 74 clearance at an important moment against Trump and Ng – worked well to subsequently establish a 3-1 advantage.
Selby and Kenna responded to make it interesting at the end, but there wasn’t to be a deciding-frame conclusion as Robertson and Nutcharut ran out 4-2 winners to share the £60,000 first-place prize.
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Overall, there were plenty of positives to take from the tournament as it brought a fresh format to the calendar and provided an opportunity for the best women players to demonstrate their talents to a wider audience.
Its overall success will likely be judged on the television viewing figures and it was great to see snooker back on the flagship ITV channel for the afternoon sessions.
However, attendances in the Marshall Arena itself were generally disappointing, which did come as a surprise considering the amount of promotion that went into the competition.
Still, with a few tweaks and improvements, it would be good to see mixed doubles feature annually on the schedule.
Neil Robertson and Mink Nutcharut will certainly hope they get an opportunity to defend their title in the future.
Featured photo credit: WST
I agree about wanting to see it return for the reasons given. The flow of matches wasn’t always great but found the tactical and personal dynamic between the player’s interesting. A few big breaks but thought only Selby out of the male player’s looked close to their best. Mink was undoubtedly the standout female player. Reaction on snooker.org chat seemed negative but most of the remarks weren’t constructive. I need to see more doubles play before being totally convinced about its long-term future. Ideally, World Snooker would eventually expand the tournament or have this event in addition to a much larger World Doubles Championship.