Pic: Monique Limbos
Robertson squandered a 3-0 lead against Ford, who was playing his first semi-final in a full ranking event, but the former World and Masters champion got the better of a tense deciding frame to book a final meeting with Kurt Maflin or Ding Junhui at 8pm tonight.
Australia's Robertson will be aiming for his seventh ranking title and first since the 2010 World Open. The 33-year-old's only previous title this season came at the Gdynia Open PTC event when, like today, he let slip a 3-0 advantage against Jamie Burnett but eventually won 4-3.
He looked in full control in the early stages today, winning the first three frames with top breaks of 50, 65 and 80. Leicester's Ford, who looked nervous early on, finally settled down in the fourth with a break of 60, and he added runs of 51 and 66 in the next to close to 3-2. And when Robertson missed a red to a centre pocket in the sixth frame, Ford's 31 squared the match.
Ford had three chances in the decider, twice missing a red to a top corner, and from the third he failed to split the pack of reds when potting the brown. Robertson then knocked in a trademark long red and laid a tough snooker behind the yellow. Ford escaped but left his opponent a chance, and Robertson's break of 48 proved enough. The world number three let his emotions spill out with an exuberant celebration as he left the arena.
Robertson said: "I was cruising at 3-0 and he was absolutely gone. Then the match turned on its head and anyhting could have happened. I was struggling to get over the line and I definitely didn't want to lose. It was his first semi-final so in the last frame I knew he was bound to miss a couple of balls under pressure. He had a couple of good chances. I potted a great long red and laid a good snooker, and I was really happy with the break I made to win the match. I gave it some emotion and sorry if I offended Tom but that's just the way it is, that's sport. I'm a passionate player and it meant a lot to me to get to the final.
"At other events this season I've made more centuries than anyone and not won. This week I haven't had a century and maybe I'll win it without playing my best. I'm just going to try to enjoy the final and try to play positive snooker."
Exclusive ball by ball scoring from World Snooker tournaments