Neil Robertson became the first player through to the Semi-Finals of the Champion of Champions after winning Group Four in Coventry on Monday.
The China Open champion, who missed out on last week’s World Open after travelling to the wrong venue for the qualifiers, came through two contrasting matches on the opening day at the Ricoh Arena.
He began by whitewashing Championship League winner Martin Gould 4-0 before recovering from 3-0 down to edge out Shaun Murphy 6-5 later in the evening.
Robertson now awaits the winner of Group One, which includes the likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan and John Higgins, in Friday’s first Semi-Final.
“They’re the sort of matches that you put into your locker that you got through a test,” Robertson told ITV Sport.
“The one against Martin, he didn’t really put me under any pressure, it was more like a practice kind of experience where he was struggling.
“The difference was that Shaun was punishing my mistakes early on and that’s why I was 3-0 down.
“In some ways it was a little bit of a blessing in disguise missing out on the World Open because the last couple of weeks I’ve been practicing so hard. I’ve learned how to restructure my practice and get a good sense of rhythm.”
Robertson cruised through his opening match against Gould with high breaks of 62 and 67 in the opening two frames, but was up against it in the Group Final as Murphy began with breaks of 67 and 98 in establishing a 3-0 lead.
The Australian, however, hit back superbly with consecutive breaks of 95, 90 and 100 to draw level, before Murphy replied with a 76 to regain the upper-hand.
A 53 break saw Robertson overturn a 48-point deficit in frame eight before potting the decisive pink for four apiece, and the duo exchanged the following two frames as ‘The Thunder’ sent the match into a decider.
Murphy had earlier come through a deciding frame against Reanne Evans but found himself on the receiving end as Robertson hauled himself over the line.
China Championship winner Murphy had eased into a 3-0 lead over Evans despite being far from his brilliant best, but the 12-time Women’s World Champion battled back with three consecutive frames to force a grandstand finish.
There was to be no fairy-tale result for Evans on her debut, however, as Murphy clinched victory in style with a magnificent break of 130.
Champion of Champions 2019 Tournament Schedule
Monday November 4
Neil Robertson 4-0 Martin Gould
Shaun Murphy 4-3 Reanne Evans
Neil Robertson 6-5 Shaun Murphy