Snooker: Long winding road to the top

Tournament organisers heave a sigh of relief when Neil Robertson, the world champion and world No 1, actually arrives at the venue as he did yesterday to take a 7-1 overnight lead over Rory McLeod in their best of 17 frames first round match in the 12BET UK Championship at Telford.

This 28 year-old Australian is as deadly a potter and possesses the most resolute of match temperaments but in his easygoing, at times vague, way he has revealed a propensity for shooting himself in the foot.

Twenty minutes before his match against Stephen Maguire at the Crucible in 2008 he was in a shoe shop because he had come to Sheffield with only the scruffy trainers he stood up in. With his new footwear pinching his feet, he dropped the first session 8-0 and was beaten 13-7.

In 2009 he was docked two frames for late arrival for a Championship League match, having made an unscheduled tour of rural Essex after getting lost between the tournament hotel and the venue.

Chatting to a fellow competitor before the 2009 Grand Prix in Glasgow, he was informed that he had misread the order of play and that he was due to play at the time he had planned to travel up. He won the tournament. In last season's elite Premier League, he allowed two hours to be driven to Preston from his Cambridge base so that he could settle in and have a rest before playing. Arriving in a fluster 10 minutes before his match was due on air, he folded to John Higgins.

His pièce de résistance, though, which convinced some that he should be allowed out only if accompanied by a responsible adult, occurred in the Premier League last month.

As his was the second match of the evening, he booked train tickets to arrive in Llandudno at 7:30pm, the start time for match 1. He caught the train at Cambridge only to discover at Ely that he was on the wrong one, travelling in the wrong direction. In turn, he missed his connection at Euston and had to ring through the worrying news that he would not be arriving at Llandudno Junction, four miles from the venue, until 9:40.

Fortunately, Ronnie O'Sullivan's 5-1 win over Mark Selby not only took longer than expected but gave Robertson an unexpected chance to qualifyfor the play-offs on frames difference if he could beat Shaun Murphy.

Having changed into his dress suit on the train, he was collected at the station, driven to the venue just in time to avoid a delay on Sky... and played brilliantly, making two centuries in beating Murphy 4-2.

His off table adventures provide a striking contrast to the intensity of his on-table dedication to his craft. It took exceptional resilience to base himself so far from home when he was 16, when he first played on the tour. He endured homesickness, lack of success and relegation but won the Oceania play-offs to get back on the circuit two years later.

Once, he was so broke that he had to borrow a waistcoat because he could not afford to buy one and he was again relegated but by winning the world under-21 title earned his third chance and at last began his long climb to No 1, winning six ranking titles on the way.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
Voices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
News
Ireland will not find out whether gay couples have won the right to marry until Saturday afternoon
news
News
Kim Jong-un's brother Kim Jong-chol
news
News
Manchester city skyline as seen from Oldham above the streets of terraced houses in North West England on 7 April 2015.
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?