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Neil Robertson won snooker’s first ranking event of the 2016/17 season by beating Michael Holt 5-2 in the final of the Kaspersky Riga Masters.
World number five Robertson came from 2-1 down to win the last four frames of the final in the Latvian capital to get his season off to a flying start. By winning seven matches in all during the event he captured the top prize of 50,000 Euros.
Snooker’s most successful ever non-British player, Australia’s 34-year-old Robertson has now won 12 ranking titles, one more than China’s Ding Junhui.
Holt was competing in the final of a full ranking event for the first time and had high hopes of landing the trophy, having beaten Robertson 10-6 in the first round of the World Championship two months ago. But this time the world number 29 from Nottingham was second best and had to settle for the 25,000 Euro runner-up prize.
Robertson took the opening frame with a top break of 56 before Holt won the second on the colours and dominated the third to lead 2-1. But Robertson won a scrappy fourth then a run of 79 put him 3-2 ahead. The sixth was another fragmented frame but it went to Robertson and he wrapped up the result in the seventh with a top break of 69.
“It’s an amazing feeling to win the first ranking event of the season,” said Robertson, who won the Champion of Champions and UK Championship last term. “I have done it a couple of times before and it’s a good feeling because you can try to build on it for the remainder of the season. I wasn’t too sure what to expect coming here, but as it went on I played really well.
“Michael is one of the most improved players on the circuit, he’s worked a lot with Terry Griffiths and you can see that in his game. He’s not afraid of the top players any more. The final was really hard work. I had to dig in deep and I potted some really good balls under pressure. I’m looking forward to the World Open in China next month and trying to claim another title.”
Earlier in the semi-finals, Robertson ended the run of amateur Darren Morgan, who at the age of 50 became the oldest ranking event semi-finalist since Rex Williams in 1986. Welshman Morgan earned a wild card in the event by winning the EBSA European Open and won five matches before losing 5-0 to Robertson. Holt edged out Mark Williams 5-4 in a tense deciding frame after a miss on the final brown from Williams ended his chances.