Neil Robertson reckons his deciding-frame defeat in an English Open classic against Judd Trump has left him in his best state of mind after losing a final, writes Will Jennings.
The Thunder from Down Under went down 9-8 in a thrilling duel in Milton Keynes as a clutch final-frame break of 114 from the world No.1 hauled him to an 18th ranking event title.
World No.3 Robertson led 7-4 but an unfortunate kick in the 14th frame, coupled with Trump’s brilliance, dashed his hopes of a third Home Nations title at the Marshall Arena.
18-time major winner Robertson, who made the highest break of the competition with a mesmerising quarter-final 140, has now lost 11 finals but says Sunday’s late heartbreak will not hit him hard.
“I feel really good and strangely enough it’s probably the best I’ve felt after losing a final,” the 38-year-old said.
Until next time! Also thank you for missing the yellow so I get to keep the break prize😂😂😂 https://t.co/CF76yDgvhy
— Neil Robertson🌱 (@nr147) October 18, 2020
“He really had to earn it and I didn’t throw it away at any point - I was unlucky at 7-6 when I got a kick on the red, but Judd did really well to win that frame and then I didn’t really get a chance until 8-7 down.
“I think that we were both bringing the best out of each other but he made a brilliant break in the decider and a fantastic century.
“The World Championship final was a disaster for me and I lost in the quarter-final completely against the way I want to play the game.
“I was very determined this season that whatever match I’m involved in, I want to play it on my terms.
“All you can do is put in the hours of practice and the best preparation you can do leading into a tournament and when somebody beats you, make them earn it.
“At eight each, Judd’s won it and didn't do anything wrong. I can’t be gutted or disappointed, because we’ve both played our part in a brilliant, brilliant final.”
The two heavyweights played out a clash for the ages at the Marshall Arena and exchanged blow after blow in a helter-skelter affair.
Trump held a 3-1 lead at the mid-session interval but a rejuvenated Robertson, bidding to beat Trump in the race to become the first man to win three separate Home Nations events, hit back as breaks of 75, 128 and 61 turned the tables.
The pair went into the break between the sessions at four frames apiece but the Australian came out a man on a mission once more, striking visits of 56, 75 and a majestic 114 to place him just two frames from victory,
Trump showed all his steel, however, clinching the next three frames before a 15th-frame break of 55 gave him an 8-7 lead.
A brilliant 125 from Robertson teed up a decider but Trump, who soared to a record-breaking six ranking event titles last term, made a clutch 114 to give him a tenth successive win in a major final.
World number one @judd147t has won his last ten consecutive ranking finals! 👊
He's beaten Neil Robertson 9-8 in Milton Keynes to lift the Steve Davis trophy.
The 2019 World Champion joins Robertson and Mark Selby on 1️⃣8️⃣ ranking titles. WHAT a player #HomeNations #EnglishOpen pic.twitter.com/K3MLeD449k
— World Snooker Tour (@WeAreWST) October 18, 2020
Robertson scooped a brilliant hat-trick of ranking event titles last season and was also crowned winner of the prestigious Champion of Champions event after edging a 10-9 classic against Trump.
He’s yet to get off the mark this campaign but reckons short-term momentum is crucial when it comes to holding silverware aloft.
“It’s great to be competing - it’s just about setting short-term goals and the titles kind of come with that,” he added.
“The titles come as a consequence of working hard and applying yourself the best you can.
“I don’t really set out and try to win two, or three - once you win a title then that’s great, but then you’ve got to try and build on that.
“My game’s in fantastic shape and I'm very positive moving forward.”