Snooker: Robertson's magnificent seven chases out Murphy

 

Alexandra Palace

Australia's Neil Robertson triumphed over England's Shaun Murphy 10-6 last night to be crowned Masters champion for the first time.

The Melbourne left-hander thus extends his remarkable record in major finals to seven wins out seven appearances, and swells his bank balance by £150,000.

"You have to have an awful lot of luck to win every final you are in," Robertson said. "The run can't go on forever. You've got to enjoy these moments. I'm going to put my young son Alexander to bed and enjoy a few drinks."

In contrast to his feud with semi-final opponent Judd Trump, Robertson is a big fan of Murphy,describing him on the eve of the final as "a class act". The respect is mutual, and the two players have much more in common. The 29-year-old former world champions both turned professional in 1998, and were contesting their first Masters final, neither having ventured beyond the quarter-final stages at the showpiece invitational tournament's old home at Wembley.

As is often the way, the early exchanges were tense, Robertson snatching a scrappy first frame on the black, but the standard soon perked up, as these two great potters exchanged century breaks. They split the first six frames, before Robertson established a lead he would never surrender.

Murphy, who became only the second player after Terry Griffiths to win the world crown as a qualifier, looked set to level at 4-4, but missed a straightforward green, Robertson pouncing to gain a crucial edge.

Robertson struck a second century as he reeled off four straight frames, to stand on the brink of victory. A battling Murphy kept the match alive with two straight frames of his own but Robertson, who had to see off UK runner-up Mark Allen, double World and Masters champion Mark Williams, and man-of the-moment Trump to make the final, sealed his triumph in the next, with a trademark pump of the fist.

Murphy had been hoping to join an elite band of seven players to have won snooker's so-called "Triple Crown", the World, UK and Masters titles. He can console himself with a runners-up cheque for £75,000. Robertson has chalked up another landmark victory on his increasingly formidable CV.

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