Neil Robertson remained on target for his 15th career ranking title as he beat Jack Lisowski 9-7 to reach the final of the International Championship in China.
Australia’s Robertson came from 5-4 down to win five of the last seven frames and set up a final clash with Mark Allen in Daqing on Sunday. First to ten frames will take the trophy and a top prize of £175,000.
World number ten Robertson will be playing in his 22nd ranking final, and victory would bring him level with Mark Selby on the all-time list with 15. The 36-year-old is aiming for his second ranking title of the season having won the Riga Masters in July.
Lisowski’s wait for his first ranking title goes on, though he is showing the most consistent form of his career this season, having been runner-up to Robertson in Riga and reached the semi-finals this week as well as three other quarter-finals. The 27-year-old banks £32,000 this week, bringing him into the top 16 in the race to the Masters.
The first session was shared 4-4, Robertson making breaks of 60 and 66 while Lisowski knocked in 64, 71, 102 and 53. Gloucestershire’s Lisowski took the opening frame of the evening session with a run of 76 and he had chances to go 6-4 ahead, but his opponent made a vital 37 clearance to snatch frame ten.
That proved a turning point as Robertson made a 54 in winning the 11th then crafted a 43 clearance to go 7-5 up at the interval. A break of 119 in the next gave him his fourth frame in a row.
Back came Lisowski with a 133, his seventh century of the tournament, and a run of 60 in frame 15 made it 8-7. But the fight-back ended there as Robertson’s 67 in frame 16 gave him the match.
“I was a bit slow out of the blocks today,” said 2010 World Champion Robertson. “I missed a chance to go 4-2 up, but then made a good clearance to go 4-4. I played solid snooker tonight and finished the match off really well because the way Jack came back from 8-5 to 8-7, it was awesome to watch. Luckily I’ve been on the end of playing Shaun Murphy a few times when he is in full flight and knocking in everything, so I know how to deal with that kind of pressure. Not many players would have been able to react the way I did.
“You can’t always play at your highest level. I was going into the pack today and not really landing on reds, and sometimes matches go that way and you have to find another way to win. I played good safety and made some important clearances. I was really pleased by the way I played against Mark Selby (in the quarter-finals) but in a way today was more impressive because I had to dig deep.
“Jack is a beautiful player to watch, he hits the ball so well. You can see the benefits of him practising with Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump. It won’t be long before he wins a tournament. He won’t be down-hearted by the result today, I’m sure he believes deep down that he will win one soon.
“It has been a fantastic start to the season for me, it’s good to follow up the win in Riga with another final. I’ve had a really tough draw this week and come through it well. There is one more big hurdle tomorrow against Mark Allen. He’s a world class player and we always enjoy our matches.”