Phil Haigh ✍️
Neil Robertson reckons he has cured his problem of the Crucible’s tight set-up, by practicing on a table surrounded by barstools.
The Thunder from Down Under has a disappointing record at the World Snooker Championship over the last 12 years, reaching the semi-finals just once since he won the event in 2010.
One reason for his lack of deep runs in Sheffield is that he believes that the tight nature of the theatre makes it difficult for him to walk into shots as he likes to do, and as he is quite tall his shots can be disturbed by the dividing wall or drinks table.
The Australian seems to recognise that he has just been using this as an excuse more than anything, but has worked to address the problem by practicing in a smaller space than he would normally to get used to the conditions.
It appears to have done no harm at all as Robertson picked up a pretty comfortable 10-5 win over Ashley Hugill in round one, knocking in four centuries in the process.
‘I’ve restricted my sort of practice area, I suppose,’ Robertson told Betfred. ‘I got loads of the bar stools and made a line around my table to replicate the same kind of space you have at the Crucible during the two-table.
‘The last few years I’ve used it as an excuse of not being able to get down and play certain shots
‘Coming here I wasn’t going to use it as an excuse but I’ve also thought to leave no stone unturned, just make it so I’m not bumping into stuff.
‘Usually when I play a match I’m bumping into the wall maybe 10 or so time and it can be disturbing to the shot.
‘This year and this match I was walking around the table and I felt comfortable with the space.’
Rather than the space in Sheffield, the more likely problem for Robertson in the Steel City is that he has not been able to play his favoured attacking style against some players in recent years.
Last year he was ousted by Kyren Wilson and it was Mark Selby who beat him in 2020, both after dragging him into a bit of a scrap and getting the better of him in a dust up.
Robertson now wants to put his space issue out of his mind and just focus on playing the attack-minded brand of snooker that has taken him to the top of the game and made him tournament favourite in Sheffield this year.
‘If I can get down to the business end of the tournament there certainly won’t be any mental block about winning it,’ Robertson continued.
‘It’s just about playing my game, be aggressive, be attacking, play a good brand of snooker that people enjoy to watch.
‘Even if I’m to get beat and can hold my hands up and say my opponent outplayed me then that’s fine.
‘But the last few years it’s not been the case and I feel like I wish I’d been more attacking. So this year a more attacking brand of snooker.’
Hugill was certainly impressed with the man he played on his Crucible debut this year, saying he may well have been beaten by the soon-to-be crowned world champ.
‘Potentially yeah,’ said Hugill of Robertson winning the world title this year. ‘He’s the best player in the world at the minute, without a doubt.’
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