Neil Robertson claims English Open title after comeback win over John Higgins
Neil Robertson secured his first English Open title after recovering from 8-6 down to edge out John Higgins 9-8 in the final in Milton Keynes.
Higgins looked on course to claim his first title of the season, but for the second successive event, let a lead slip in the final to lose out in a decider.
Robertson had lost by the same scoreline to Judd Trump in last year’s final and went one better in front of a sell-out crowd at the Marshall Arena to lift the Steve Davis trophy.
The victory moves the Australian up to seventh in the all-time list of ranking event winners with 21 titles and marks his first triumph of the season.
“As a kid I idolised John as a player and I dreamt of meeting him, so to be standing here sharing a table with him in a final is just incredible,” Robertson told Eurosport.
“I know what he was saying, he had a chance in the final frame and was unlucky with that cannon.
“It is fine margins and I had to dig in as he came out all guns blazing tonight.
“I did not do a lot wrong and he played some great stuff.
“I found something from somewhere and played my best snooker towards the end of the match.”
Robertson had established a 5-3 lead following the first session in the afternoon with high breaks of 140 and 123 to his name.
Higgins, however, came out firing when the pair returned in the evening, reeling off four consecutive frames with breaks of 62 and 60 en route to taking a 7-5 lead.
Robertson stopped the rot with a break of 80 in frame 13 before Higgins hit back with a 55 break to restore a two-frame advantage.
Robertson dug deep to produce a 52 break and keep his hopes alive, before applying further pressure on the Scot with a terrific 120 clearance to force a decider.
A missed red on 22 proved fatal for Higgins as Robertson punished emphatically with a break of 65 to snatch victory and leave the 46-year-old shell-shocked.
“I think this afternoon I was a little bit tired,” admitted Higgins. “But Neil made me tired. I felt like I was Mowgli out of the Jungle Book, with the snake putting you to sleep.
“He’s such an unbelievable player and I was actually nearly sleeping, just the way he was continually banging the back of the pockets.
“I went back to the room, had an hour’s sleep, I woke up, didn’t know where I was… and then I felt a wee bit more energised and tonight I came out and played pretty well.
“But I think the last two finals show I’ve not really got it at this level. I’ve not got it.”