Robertson wins world snooker title
WILL BRODIE, MEGAN LEVYMay 4, 2010
Melbourne's Neil Robertson has won the world snooker championship title in Sheffield, England. Robertson, 28, defeated Scotland’s Graeme Dott 18-13 in the best-of-35 frames final at The Crucible Theatre. He is the first Australian to win the world title since Horace Lindrum in 1952.
"Oh my God, absolutely incredible, I just can’t believe it," Robertson said just after his twelve-hour triumph, watched by his mother, who had flown from Melbourne on a "leap of faith", not knowing if her son would make the final.
Melbourne snooker star Neil Robertson poses with his mother, Alison Hunter, after winning the world title in Sheffield, England. Photo: Warren Little/Getty Images
Robertson's wife Millie is pregnant with the couple's first baby, which was due on Sunday. Yesterday Robertson said: "Every part of my life is exciting. We were talking about the due date, how wouldn't it be funny if I got to the final."
Robertson could not hide his delight at clinching the title at the end of a personal odyssey that started with a handful of money and a borrowed waistcoat.
"I’d had three goes at it really and didn’t go any good," Robertson told the BBC.
Aussie's snooker triumph
Moment of truth. Neil Robertson of Australia celebrates after twelve hours of battle. Photo: Getty Images
"There’s no way in the world the guys that beat me would’ve thought I could do what I’ve done.
"But I just kept persisting with it.
"I came over to Cambridge with 500 quid in my pocket and I had to borrow a waistcoat off another Australian player.
"I couldn’t afford to buy one, so I can probably buy a few more now I guess."
Snooker is hardly a crowd-puller in Australia, but Robertson expressed hope that his success would be a catalyst for greater interest.
"If this doesn’t do anything (for the sport), I don’t know, I probably won’t call myself Australian anymore," he joked.
"But obviously Australians love world champions and Olympic champions and stuff like that and it would’ve been a big blow if I’d lost the final.
"I had all sorts of those kinds of pressures to deal with as well, so hopefully this can start something special and we can start to get some events out there now."
It is the Melburnian's fifth professional title from five finals contested. A professional since he was sixteen, Robertson had to return to Australia after his first foray overseas, when the financial strain became too great.
His second attempt overseas, on the back of an under-21 triumph in 2003, saw the Collingwood and Chelsea fan establish himself in the world's top 70 players.
Two years later he was amongst the top twenty ranked players in the world, and he won his first Grand Prix event in 2006. Robertson is currently ranked number nine in the world.
About 30 family and friends crammed into a small room on the top floor of the Princess Entertainment Centre Carnegie erupted in cheers and the odd tear when Robertson claimed the crown this morning.
The group, including the champion’s brother Mark and stepbrother Garry, gathered at the club about 7pm last night and watched Neil's progress throughout the early hours of the morning.
Neil's father, Ian, chose to watch the game from home.
"He has wanted to be world champ forever, the money and all that was just a bonus," Mark Robertson said after his brother’s win.
"I don't usually get emotional at many things at all. I was pretty calm throughout the whole final but halfway through the last frame when I saw that final expression and he knew he had won, that's when it hit me and I lost it."
The group popped champagne and chanted "Aussie Aussie Aussie, oi oi oi!" to toast his success.
Garry said he was not surprised by his stepbrother's success, as he had a natural ability to remain calm under pressure.
"He's laidback, casual, easygoing - he'd love this," he said, pointing to the screen.
He said Robertson had taken to the game after his father Ian bought a Ringwood pool hall in 1993.
The following years were spent studying the game and video tapes of the great players.
"He slowly started asking some questions, getting some stupid tips and some golden nuggets and making them work," Garry said.
As for how the family will celebrate? The consensus was that drinks will be on Robertson for the forseeable future.
The final is worth £250,000 to Robertson, money welcome for the champ, whose family has helped fund his bid for snooker glory.
Robertson's mother Alison used her credit cards to fund Neil's voyage around the world snooker circuit. She made a surprise trip to cheer on her son yesterday.
Robertson, based in Cambridge during the British season, says on his website that wishes he could ply his trade in Australia, he can't leave home without his beanie (especially in the UK winter), and he is "always happy".
He is ecstatic now.
Road to glory
Australian Neil Robertson’s route to winning the 2010 snooker world championship title at The Crucible:
R1: bt Fergal O’Brien (IRL) 10-5
R2: bt Martin Gould (ENG) 13-12
QF: bt Steve Davis (ENG) 13-5
SF: bt Ali Carter (ENG) 15-9
F: bt Graeme Dott (SCO) 18-13
NEIL ROBERTSON TIMELINE
1982: Born February 11, in Melbourne, Australia.
1996: Becomes youngest player, at 14, ever to make a century in an Australian ranking event. Also wins Australian Under-18 title.
1998: After disappointing his mother by leaving school at 15 to focus on snooker, he turns professional.
2000: Wins Australian Under-21 Championship.
2002: Wins Australian Open, beating Steve Mifsud 8-0.
2003: Wins World Under-21 Snooker Championship to earn a wild card for the main tour.
2004: Wins Masters qualifying tournament but loses to Jimmy White in the first round.
2005: Qualifies for the World Championship for the first time. Loses to Stephen Hendry in the first round. Achieves a top-32 ranking for the first time, moving to 28th.
2006: Reaches quarter-finals at the World Championship but loses 13-12 to Graeme Dott. Climbs into top 16 for first time, at world number 13. Secures first ranking title, winning the Grand Prix.
2007: Wins Welsh Open, beating Andrew Higginson in the final after knocking out Stephen Hendry, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Steve Davis in earlier rounds. Climbs to seventh in the world.
2008: Wins Bahrain Championship, defeating Matthew Stevens in the final.
2009: Reaches World Championship semi-finals by ousting Steve Davis, Ali Carter and Stephen Maguire, but loses to Shaun Murphy. Wins Grand Prix title in October.
2010: April 1 - Robertson makes 147 maximum break, his first in competition as a professional, against Peter Ebdon at the China Open - but loses the match 5-1.
May 3 - After knocking out Fergal O’Brien, Martin Gould, Steve Davis and Ali Carter, Robertson wins World Championship title with 18-13 victory over Graeme Dott, becoming the first Crucible champion from outside the British Isles since Cliff Thorburn in 1980.
- with agencies