Neil Robertson edged out Kyren Wilson 5-4 in a high quality quarter-final at the BetVictor English Open in Milton Keynes.
Robertson was a losing finalist at last year’s English Open in an epic showdown with Judd Trump, falling short by a 9-8 scoreline. Standing in his way of a second successive trip to the title match is Mark King, who he will meet in a best of 11 last four encounter tomorrow evening.
Australia’s Robertson is hitting form at the right time with a busy month ahead. He will be in Bolton at the Champion of Champions and in York for the defence of his UK Championship title. He became UK Champion with a 10-9 win over Judd Trump behind closed doors here at the Marshall Arena 12 months ago.
Today’s victory breaks a run of three successive defeats at the hands of Wilson for Robertson. The most recent of those clashes was a 13-8 loss in the quarter-finals of last season’s World Championship.
It was Kettering’s Wilson who took the opener this evening with a break of 52, before Robertson responded with 104 to restore parity. Wilson hit back immediately with a century of his own, a run of 117, to regain the lead at 2-1. Robertson then crafted a contribution of 72 to head into the mid-session all square at 2-2.
The barrage of breaks was unrelenting when play resumed. Wilson fired in a superb break of 110 to move a frame ahead, before Robertson once again drew level thanks to a 95 break. Wilson claimed the seventh to move a frame from victory at 4-3. However, Robertson wasn’t to be denied and fired in breaks of 126 and 70 to claim two on the bounce and seal his spot in the last four.
“It was a really good match. Kyren even said at the end that he enjoyed the match,” said 39-year-old Robertson. “It is good to improve and build as the tournament is going on. It is really nice when you do that. That doesn’t always happen, but it is great to build into some really good form.
“To get to a semi-final early on in the season is a really good start. I missed a couple of events at the start of the season, but that was according to plan. It is about improving with the Champion of Champions and the UK Championship coming up. It is about trying to peak for those moments.
“When you go into a semi-final you always have to be confident. You know you are playing well and that the worst case scenario is getting beat. The semi-finals is still a really good tournament with how many good players there are nowadays. I’m looking forward to playing the match. We’re really good friends and have known each other for a long time. I’m delighted to see him playing well again.”
Scotland’s four-time World Champion John Higgins set up a blockbuster showdown with Ronnie O’Sullivan in the last four after defeating Masters champion Yan Bingtao 5-3.
Higgins looked to be in complete control of the tie when he established a 4-0 cushion at the mid-session. However, the game became more fragmented and Yan battled his way back to pull within a frame at 4-3. Higgins eventually got himself over the line with a break of 48.
Afterwards, the 31-time ranking event winner was relieved to be through, but disappointed with his performance.
Higgins said: “That was torture. It really wasn’t as if Yan was playing great to come back. It was just chance after chance after chance. I’m delighted to go through but the way I played there I will be a lamb to the slaughter against Ronnie.
“All I was thinking that this was going to hurt if I lost, with the manner of it. I just have to forget all about it and move on tomorrow. I know I’ve been hitting the ball well. I’ll need to produce my best form against Ronnie the way he is playing.”
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