Neil Robertson white-washed Mark Selby 6-0 to set up a Betway UK Championship final against Liang Wenbo.
While tonight’s semi-final was not as one-sided as the scoreline suggests, with Selby missing chances at key moments, Robertson was the superior player and earned a spot in tomorrow’s conclusion at the York Barbican.
In the first ever UK Championship final between two non-British players, Australia’s Robertson and China’s Liang will battle over 19 frames for the trophy and £150,000 top prize.
World number three Robertson is aiming for his second UK crown having lifted the trophy in 2013. Victory would give him his 11th career ranking title and it would complete a tremendous four-week spell for the Thunder From Down Under, having won the Champion of Champions in Coventry last month.
In a repeat of the 2013 final, Selby looked set to win the opening frame until he missed a tricky pink on a break of 52, and Robertson later won it by clearing from the last red. Frame two followed a similar pattern as Selby broke down on 55 and his opponent cleared superbly with 68. Leicester’s Selby also had chances in the next two frames but couldn’t take them as Robertson made it 4-0 at the interval.
Once again it was Selby among the balls first in the fifth frame but he could only make 49 and Robertson eventually cleared from green to black to extend his lead. Frame six lasted 49 minutes and came down to the colours. A sensational long pot on the green from Robertson, cueing from tight on the top cushion, set up a clearance which ended the match.
“I did to Mark what he’s done to me in the past a number of times,” said 33-year-old Robertson. “The first two frames I made a couple of really good clearances. I put him under a lot of pressure, my intent was to keep him on the back foot and pinch a few of those frames.
“I was keen on getting it done quickly and that’s why I attacked as much as I did. I knew playing that way was my best of winning anyway. It means I can have a nice, relaxing night and get ready for tomorrow.
“I saw a little bit of the earlier semi-final and obviously Liang was over the moon there. He was under a lot of pressure because his Masters spot was at stake, something he never thought he had a chance of achieving at the start of the tournament. It’s great to have another overseas player in the Masters this year.
“It’s funny that the UK Championship will be won by either an Austrlian or someone from China. I think that speaks volumes for the way the game’s going, it’s fantastic. Ding Junhui and I have competed in a lot of big matches and now I’m going to be playing Liang. It’s great for the game that the overseas contingent is doing really well.
“I’m going to forget about today’s result pretty much when I get back to my apartment, chill out and maybe play some video games. I’ll start afresh tomorrow as it’s the best of 19 frames so that’s the way I’m going to address it.
“I’m really not thinking about being in the UK final at all and I won’t be. I’ll sleep very well tonight. Chelsea losing was probably on my mind a lot more than the UK Championship!”
Selby, who is yet to win a title this season, said: “I should have won the first two frames but after I missed the pink in the first frame the match turned and Neil got stronger. If I could have been 2-2 at the interval it would have been a different story. Neil played well and he’ll be the favourite tomorrow.”