Neil Robertson denies Ronnie O’Sullivan as Mark Williams edges John Higgins to reach Masters Semi-Finals
Neil Robertson pulled off a 6-4 victory over Ronnie O’Sullivan to reach the Semi-Finals of The Masters, as Mark Williams edged out John Higgins in an epic decider.
Robertson avenged his defeat to O’Sullivan in last month’s World Grand Prix final as he defied a partisan Alexandra Palace crowd and remained in contention for his second Masters title.
The 2012 champion fired in a brace of century breaks in a high quality display to reach his fifth Masters Semi-Final in the space of a decade.
“I’m really happy with getting through,” Robertson told BBC Sport. “My pot success was at 96%, so that tells you I was potting a lot of balls and not making too many mistakes.
“It was back and forth a little bit. My positional play could have been a little bit better but I pulled off some brilliant pressure shots, especially bridging from the cushion.
“It was following a little bit of a pattern there [with O’Sullivan fighting back] – when he gets the crowd behind him and you get 2,000 people absolutely screaming.
“My debut was against Jimmy White at the Masters and I know how much a crowd can carry a player, so it was important I responded well and I did that.”
Robertson capitalised on a slow start from O’Sullivan as he established a 2-0 lead with breaks of 119 and 56.
Crowd favourite O’Sullivan got off the mark in frame three before following in with a break of 66 to draw level at the interval.
O’Sullivan then missed a narrow red to the middle pocket with a chance to clear, allowing Robertson off the hook to clinch frame five and regain the lead.
A majestic clearance of 102 brought ‘The Rocket’ back to parity, but he was then distracted by movement in the crowd and was duly punished for missing a red as Robertson landed a break of 130 to go back in front at 4-3.
O’Sullivan recovered well to make a 68 break in frame eight, but Robertson again got his nose back in front and averted a potential decider by producing a break of 54 to seal frame and match.
“It wasn’t really good stuff,” admitted O’Sullivan. “He didn’t play good and I didn’t play good.”
“There were too many mistakes and it was just one of those games.
“I was just trying to make it competitive and do everything I could to make it interesting.
“I never make any excuses, Neil was the better player today and I hope he goes on and wins it.”
Robertson will now face Williams in Saturday’s opening Semi-Final after the Welsh veteran overcame fellow two-time Masters champion Higgins in a thrilling decider.
The ‘Class of 92’ duo were greeted to a standing ovation from a capacity crowd at Ally Pally and produced a contest worthy of the electric atmosphere.
Williams recovered from 2-0 down to progress to his first Masters Semi-Final since 2010, defying two century breaks from the Scot.
“It was a great game, a great occasion, I’ve never experienced a crowd like that,” Williams told Eurosport.
“The respect between me and John is massive but when the crowd is like that it’s unbelievable.
“To make a break like I did in the last frame under that pressure, I’ve got to pat myself on the back.
“It’s probably the best atmosphere I’ve played in in 30 years as a professional, nothing can ever top that.”
Higgins flew out of the traps with a majestic break of 126 to clinch the opening frame and edged the second to double his lead, before Williams got off and running with a stunning break of 116.
The three-time World Champion then added back-to-back frames either side of the interval to move ahead before Higgins stopped the rot in the sixth to restore parity.
A break of 66 helped Williams regain the upper-hand at 4-3, but only for Higgins to hit back with a 127 clearance.
British Open champion Williams moved to the cusp of victory thanks to a break of 78, but a 61 in response from Higgins set up a grandstand finish.
Williams, though, held his nerve to produce a magnificent break of 91 in the decider and seal his spot in the Semi-Finals.
“I gave it everything,” admitted Higgins. “What a break he made in the last frame, he does it so many times against me.
“That’s the best atmosphere I’ve ever played in front of, it was incredible.”
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Masters Snooker 2022 Day Five Results
Thursday January 13
Neil Robertson 6-4 Ronnie O’Sullivan
Mark Williams 6-5 John Higgins