Neil Robertson ended a five-match losing streak to Ronnie O’Sullivan with a thrilling 6-5 triumph to reach the Champion of Champions final in Coventry on Friday.
Robertson, who had lost out to his nemesis in the final of two ranking tournaments this year, ended O’Sullivan’s record of having reached the Champion of Champions final in each of his five appearances in the elite invitational.
There was never more than a frame between the box office duo for the duration of an epic battle, but it was the Australian who held his nerve in the decider to progress to his second Champion of Champions final.
“I was extremely determined today, concentrated on my own game and made sure I was going to be very aggressive, as he has been all week as well,” said Robertson, who will face either Judd Trump or Mark Allen in Sunday’s final.
“We have a huge amount of respect for each other. Ronnie has got the better of me the last few times we have played, and in a couple of big finals obviously.
“You don’t want to make a habit of losing to somebody, even though a few of the times I have lost to him he has played fantastic stuff.
“There was a lot of high scoring, some great potting, a couple of close frames. The crowd were great and I am sure they really enjoyed the match – it was an awesome match to be a part of.”
It was defending champion O’Sullivan who clinched the opening frame with a break of 66 before Robertson secured back-to-back frames with the aid of a 62 break to hit the front.
O’Sullivan responded with a break of 81 to level up at the interval, but Robertson hit back in style with a clinical 108 to lead 3-2.
World number three O’Sullivan restored parity by taking frame six, but an 87 break saw the Australian nudge back ahead in a nip and tuck affair.
O’Sullivan countered with a quick-fire 86 to level at four apiece before edging ahead for the first time since the opening frame by potting the final black in a tense ninth frame.
However, a thunderous break of 135 – the highest of the tournament so far – saw Robertson force a decider, and after ‘The Rocket’ had misjudged a safety shot, the 2015 champion punished emphatically with a break of 90 to clinch victory.