Snooker: Cope shows he can handle pressure

Jamie Cope, a 21-year-old qualifier from Stoke, produced a performance of remarkable aplomb to beat Mark King 6-3 in the semi-finals of the Royal London Watches Grand Prix here. He will play the 24-year-old Australian left-hander Neil Robertson for the title today.

From 2-1 down, Cope won four frames in 46 minutes with 96, 58, 74 and 60 as his chief contributions. King, who had eliminated the defending champion, John Higgins, in the quarter-finals, kept him scoreless in the eighth frame but could make little impact on arrears of 0-53 in what proved to be the final frame.

Cope, who came here with career earnings from the circuit of only £34,050 had already earned from his 147 break in the round- robin stage a £20,000 bonus and £4,000 for the highest break prize. He stands to claim a further £60,000 if he wins today. "I'm really pleased," he said. "I played well but I think there's more to come. I still haven't thought about the money, but it does help."

Robertson, a quarter-final winner over Ronnie O'Sullivan, dropped the first two frames to Alan McManus only for Scotland's last hope to blunder on the verge of leading 3-1. With Robertson already needing two snookers to tie, McManus played the blue carelessly. Robertson laid two successful snookers, potted blue, pink, black and, after an exchange, the tie-break black to level at 2-2 and did not lose another frame.

"That was a massive frame," Robertson said. "I don't think I've ever won one needing two snookers on the blue in a professional event. If I win this, no doubt it'll really raise the profile of the game back home."

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