Neil Robertson continued a red hot run of form to secure his place in the XingPai China Open final with a hard fought 10-7 defeat of Luca Brecel.
Robertson will face Jack Lisowski in tomorrow’s final over the best of 21 frames with a top prize of £225,000 up for grabs. The match will be a repeat of the final at the season opening Riga Masters, where Robertson came through a 5-2 victor.
The Australian has now appeared in four consecutive ranking finals, having won the Welsh Open and been runner-up at the Players Championship and Tour Championship. If Robertson were to win in tomorrow’s final he would take his earnings for the season above £500,000. Victory would also see the 2010 World Champion move from seventh to fourth position in the world rankings.
Former China Championship winner Brecel will leave Beijing with the consolation of £45,000, having reached his first semi-final of the campaign. This week’s run has confirmed his place in the world’s top 16 in the Race to the Crucible.
The pair came into the evening session with just one frame between them, after Robertson edged a narrow 5-4 lead this afternoon.
It was Brecel who started the brightest tonight. He claimed the opening frame with a break of 85, before taking the next to move 6-5 in front. The match then swung back the way of Robertson, who fired in breaks of 56 and 65 to lead 7-6.
Belgium’s Brecel levelled at 7-7, but Robertson upped his game as the finishing line came into sight. The 15-time ranking event winner composed runs of 73, 83 and 66 to claim three in a row and secure the 10-7 victory.
Robertson said: “I think Luca played an amazing match. If he was against anyone but myself, Judd or Ronnie he would probably have won today. Huge credit to him. I did well in the first session to get the lead from behind. I kept believing and kept trying even though I’m really tired. This is my fourth final in a row, which is crazy. I’ve been playing snooker non-stop recently.
“I’ve played a lot of snooker the last four or five weeks. The last couple of tournaments have been long distance matches, but I guess that is getting me ready for the World Championship.
“There was huge pressure on us both in the final in Riga. You want to win a tournament early in the season and that would have been his first title. I feel really good. If I was playing someone who was more tactical who tried to bog the match down I’d struggle as tiredness is going to kick in, but tomorrow won’t be like that.”
Lisowski progressed courtesy of a 10-1 demolition of Scotland’s Scott Donaldson. He has enjoyed a fine season and appeared in the Masters for the first time earlier this year. The Englishman has maintained his position in the world’s top 16 and will compete as a seed at the Crucible for the first time later this month.
Defeat for Donaldson means that he misses out on the chance to pip David Gilbert to the last remaining spot in the world’s top 16 for the World Championship. Donaldson will now have to head to qualifying next week to attempt to secure his place.
Lisowski had already established an imposing 8-1 advantage after a sparkling display in the opening session. He made light work of finishing the tie off this evening, reeling off the two required frames in under half an hour to book his place in the final.
“It was a great day for me. I managed to get on top of Scott from the first frame. I just stayed on top the whole game. He didn’t have a lot of run, but he is a great player and is really improving. Both of us are quite new to this. I just managed to keep my head down,” said Lisowski. “I feel like I’m dealing with situations much better than I was at the start of the year. This season has been a learning curve for me. I’ve had some tough defeats, but I think I’m on top of things now.