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Comeback king Neil Robertson stuns John Higgins to retain Tour Championship crown

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Neil Robertson is the reigning champion

Neil Robertson completed a successful Tour Championship defence after a dramatic 10-9 victory over John Higgins in the final on Sunday.

The reigning champion was on the brink of defeat at 9-4 down at Venue Cymru in Llandudno, but produced a magnificent turnaround to snatch glory from under his wasteful opponent’s nose.

Taking his career ranking title tally to 23, Robertson landed the top prize of £150,000, adding to the bonus prize of £150,000 he secured for winning the Cazoo Series.

Having already captured the English Open, Masters and Players Championship, the Australian has now won four trophies during a single season for the first time in his wonderful career.

“John was just completely outplaying me today,” he told ITV Sport. “I had to dig in, dig deep, and that’s what I kept on doing.

“He was completely shutting me out; I didn’t attempt one single long ball with my hand on the table up until it was 8-3.

“I wouldn’t be as good a player as I am without the likes of John, Ronnie [O’Sullivan] and Mark [Williams].

“[John is] part of the problem because they’ve inspired so many younger players to pick up a cue and to dream.”

Higgins was seeking his first ranking title of the season at the fourth attempt, having fallen at the final hurdle of the Northern Ireland Open, English Open – in which he lost 9-8 to Robertson – and Scottish Open.

The four-time World champion made the ideal start; snatching a 50-minute long opening frame on the black, before back-to-back centuries of 136 and 126 establishing a 3-0 lead.

Robertson stopped the rot with a magnificent 130 total clearance and went close to compiling a 147 in frame six; a tricky blue along the rail rattled in the jaws as he desperately sought position on the pink.

Higgins, who was the last player to seal qualification into the elite eight-man event, regained the lead with breaks of 127 and 80 giving him a two-frame buffer heading into the evening.

The Scotsman continued to dominate proceedings with trademark grit and determination. He cleared from the last red to pink for 6-3, while a top run of 68 put him 8-3 to the good.

His opponent responded with 91, but a brilliant break of 84 moved Higgins to the brink of victory.

An opportunity to seal it was presented in the next frame, but he missed a tricky yellow to the left centre with the cue ball tight on the baulk cushion, enabling Robertson to keep his hopes alive.

That was a sign of things to come for Higgins, with the winning line evidently intensifying the pressure and culminating in uncharacteristic errors.

Sensing his opponent’s nerves and smelling blood, the Australian pounced with breaks of 108, 72 and 93 to force a decider.

Once again, the tension got the better of Higgins, who missed a relatively straightforward red to the corner following an ambitious attempt at a plant by Robertson.

But the Thunder did not waste his second opportunity; a break of 72 completing an unbelievable turnaround.

“Neil came back and put me under unbelievable pressure; I just never stood up to it at the end,” added Higgins, who was typically dignified and gracious in defeat.

“He played amazing stuff to come back at me.

“It’s unforgivable; you cannot miss that red that I missed [in the decider] when I’ve got a chance to maybe get a few points on the board.

“There are worse things happen in life.”