Robertson battles through to final


Robertson battles through to final

Neil Robertson survived an almighty fightback from Stuart Bingham to win 9-8 in the first semi-final of the williamhill.com UK Championship in York.

The world number one took the afternoon session 5-3 and seemed set for victory when he won the first three in the evening.

Bingham, the conqueror of Ronnie O'Sullivan, found amazing resolve to battle back to 8-8 but could not complete the job as Robertson took a lengthy decider to reach his first UK final.

A relieved Robertson said afterwards: "I never threw it away, I wasn't really doing much wrong at all, Stuart was just playing fantastic snooker.

"I'm really proud of myself for the way I held myself together at the end.

"I tried not to celebrate because Stuart played an amazing game, some of the best snooker I've ever seen, so I know he must be absolutely devastated.

"I'd just like to congratulate Stu on a brilliant tournament, he's had a fantastic last month or so."

Bingham made the early running in the afternoon and could easily have led 3-1 at the mid-session interval.

He was 2-1 up after breaks of 72 and 124 and made 51 in frame four but then allowed Robertson to steal it.

It looked like a decisive moment as the Australian made the best of an unpromising position in the first frame back, compiling a high-quality 86.

He took the next after Bingham could not develop a couple of half-chances and looked to have wrapped up frame seven after a 68 break left Bingham needing four snookers.

A free ball and some superb safety brought the world number 10 back into it but having done the hard work, he rattled a green in the jaws and Robertson staggered over the line.

That left Bingham desperately needing to win the last and he did so with a 78 break.

The first two frames of the evening session saw both players feeling their way back into the game.

Robertson made 39 in the opener before missing a black off its spot, but eventually won the frame with a long doubled pink.

A 41 ended a cagey second frame of the session and an 81 in the next left him one frame from victory at 8-3.

Bingham made 85 to take the match beyond the interval and a 56 set him on his way in the next, though he had to get over the line with the help of a fluke double when snookered on the green.

That proved a turning point as an 86 brought him within two frames and the fightback continued as Robertson missed a long red in the next and Bingham mopped up with 31 to the pink.

And Bingham pulled level with a 107 break to set up a deciding frame which had seemed implausible even an hour previously.

Robertson missed a long opener but made a break of 59 to leave him on the brink. He missed a match-ball red with the rest, though, and called a foul on himself after disturbing the brown.

Bingham, though, missed a plant on the ball left and Robertson eventually got over the line.

"At 8-3, I had complete control of the match," said Robertson.

"My safety was great and I had him under a lot of pressure throughout the whole match, but at 8-3 he relaxes.

"At 8-4 I played a really good frame and potted a great long yellow, if the white pulls up a couple of inches or runs on a couple of inches I probably win the match there and then.

"I snookered him, he got out of the snooker and fluked the green.

"Then I didn't really get a chance until about 8-6, I rattled the red in baulk and he cleared up again, 8-7, then had a hundred to go 8-8.

"In the last frame I potted a great long red and a great blue to get in the break. I potted the black but Dennis (Taylor) started making all sorts of noises in the commentary box - he does get a bit excited! - and I just lost my focus with the red with the rest."

A deflated Bingham said: "With the last red, it wasn't really on, I had to swerve it quite a lot and it's a fantastic shot.

"I was just trying to make the score respectable and then all of a sudden I had a chance to win.

"I'm just gutted, lost for words."

Reigning champion Mark Selby meets Ricky Walden in the second semi-final on Saturday.

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