Phil Haigh ✍️
Neil Robertson suffered a shock 4-3 defeat to Fan Zhengyi in the opening round of the Champion of Champions, but said it was just down to the brilliance of the Chinese youngster.
The Australian was the hot favourite to beat the 21-year-old and, despite losing the opening frame, got himself into a strong position with a 3-2 lead.
However, he scored just one more point after that stage, with Fan making breaks of 94 and 98 to pick up a famous win and progress to the next round.
Robertson was not at his best, missing a few balls which looked pretty routine, but he was not making excuses after the match, praising the talented Fan, who shocked the world by winning the European Masters last season.
‘I was hitting the ball great. It was more about the adjustment to the table, it was playing very reactive with side,’ Robertson told ITV4. ‘After that it was just bits and parts really, I couldn’t really get in amongst the balls, missing something tricky or falling just out of position.
‘A best of seven you just need to get through no matter what, you can lose to anyone, especially in a tournament like this when you’re just playing tournament winners.
‘I did well to go 3-2, not playing great but my long game was very good. From 3-2 up, a couple of brilliant frames by him and I’m out. No complaints really, I thought he played really well.
‘I didn’t really make any catastrophic errors today, just a couple of awkward misses. Probably more difficult than they looked. Apart from that I really don’t have any complaints. I was hitting the ball lovely. I just couldn’t really get into a good flow, that can happen in a best of sevens, especially early on.
‘It’s a shame not to be in the bet of 11 as it’s one of the best things about this tournament, playing best of 11s all the way to the final.
‘It’s a pity, but it is what it is. No complaints, full compliments to Fan. Last two frames he played brilliant. The talent is certainly there, without a doubt.’
Fan progresses to play either Kyren Wilson or Ryan Day for a place in the semi-finals.
It is one of the greatest wins of the 21-year-old’s career, having stunned Ronnie O’Sullivan to win the European Masters last season, but done little else in his time as a pro so far.
Before this week he had made just one ranking quarter-final other than at the European Masters, and the victory over Robertson was only his third match win of this season so far.
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