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Neil Robertson v Zhou Yuelong: European Masters 2020 Final preview – Aussie ace out to avert upset

Jamie Shaw in European Masters

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European Masters Snooker 2020 Quarter-Finals preview and order of play: Last Eight lock horns in Austria

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Ruthless Neil Robertson whitewashes Zhou Yuelong to claim European Masters title

Zhou aims to become the latest first-time ranking event winner (Photo by Nigel French/PA Archive/PA Images)

Neil Robertson aims to secure the European Masters title for the first time by denying Zhou Yuelong a maiden ranking triumph in the final in Dornbirn on Sunday.

Robertson is bidding to uphold his record of winning at least one televised title every year since 2006, a stat which underlines his clinical consistency.

The 2010 World Champion has enjoyed his best results in invitational competition so far this season, picking up the Champion of Champions title last November following a run to the Semi-Finals of the Shanghai Masters.

The Australian left-hander has now progressed beyond the Fourth Round of a ranking tournament for the first time in seven attempts this season, following up a brace of qualifying wins with a further four dominant displays in Austria.

The world number five began the week with back-to-back 5-2 wins over Lyu Haotian and 2006 World Champion Graeme Dott before thrashing Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 6-1 and Ali Carter to seal his spot in the final.

Zhou, meanwhile, has celebrated the week of his 22nd birthday in dream fashion, winning through to his first ranking final since turning professional in 2014.

Zhou is aiming to become the third Chinese winner this season following the success of compatriots Yan Bingtao at the Riga Masters and Ding Junhui at the UK Championship.

The world number 32 has continued his close affinity with this tournament, having reached his first ranking Semi-Final in the same event in 2017, eventually losing out to Stuart Bingham.

He began his run to the final with a 5-4 scalp of three-time World Champion Mark Williams, before overcoming teenage sensation Jackson Page 5-3.

Zhou then dispatched former world finalist Barry Hawkins 5-2 in the Quarter-Finals before holding his nerve to come through a marathon four-and-a-half hour battle with Gary Wilson in a late-night decider.

This will be only the second competitive meeting between Zhou and Robertson, with Robertson having thrashed the youngster 6-1 in the 2018 China Open in their only encounter to date.

The final gets underway from 1pm GMT for a total of eight frames before being played to a finish over the best of 17 from 7pm.

WATCH ROBERTSON vs ZHOU STREAMED LIVE HERE (18+)

Player’s View:

Robertson: “It’s always a great occasion being in a final, I always enjoy it.

“I’ll be playing someone who has never won a ranking event before so he will be hungry.

“I’m trying to win more ranking events, I’d love to get to 20 and if I achieve that I will refocus my goals.”

Zhou: “Ever since I started playing snooker I have dreamed of reaching a ranking final.

“I feel fantastic. I have never experienced this before. I am excited but I will try to have a good rest.”