Magnificent Maguire sweeps aside Robertson in Tour Championship opener
Stephen Maguire made a sensational return to competitive action with six century breaks en route to a 9-5 victory over Neil Robertson at the Tour Championship on Saturday.
Maguire, whose last competitive appearance came in February’s Players Championship, showed no sign of rustiness as he reeled off five consecutive frames to book his place in the Semi-Finals.
Robertson played his part in a spell-binding contest with two tons of his own, but was mostly powerless to halt the free-flowing scoring of the Scot.
“I didn’t know what to expect there but the way the match started in the first two frames set the tone,” said Maguire, who only made the Tour Championship field due to the withdrawal of Ding Junhui.
“I felt sharp and it seemed to carry on all the way through that match.
“I don’t play like that, that’s a one-off fluke!
“Usually it’s 50s or 60s, break down, then the other guy cleans up. I’ve lost so many matches like that, but they just kept going in.
“I was sitting in the garden last week with a nice bottle of beer then I got the call to say I might be in the tournament, so the beer went down and the practice cue came out and here I am.
“I’m not going to get carried away, that’s just one match and anything could happen in the Semi-Final.”
The UK Championship semi-finalist offered a glimpse of things to come as he fired in a break of 108 in the first frame, before Robertson hit back immediately with a break of 100.
Successive breaks of 58 and 86 handed the Scot a two-frame advantage, but Robertson took the next three courtesy of 103, 72 and 79 breaks.
Maguire ensured the pair would head to the interval all-square at four apiece after compiling a superb break of 117.
It was Robertson who regained the upper-hand after the restart with a 77 break, but that would prove his final meaningful contribution as Maguire stormed to the next five frames without reply.
He began the rampage with a break of 103 before adding a stunning 135 clearance, followed by further breaks of 111 and 115 to make it four tons in a row.
Robertson looked like he would stop the rot in frame 14 after opening up with a 53 break but a miss to the middle pocket allowed Maguire in to punish with a 59 to seal the deal.
“It’s very strange not playing in front of a crowd,” admitted Robertson. “When two top players are playing each other there’s not really any pressure involved.
“To me it just felt like playing in practice, there was no pressure on either player.
“Even when Stephen was making all those centuries, I didn’t really feel any pressure, I was just unable to get in and create scoring opportunities for myself.
“He’s had six centuries there, and without any exaggeration, I kind of butchered the other 70-plus breaks I made so I should have had five myself.
“It was an unbelievable standard of snooker and the table is certainly going to lend itself to some crazy breaks being knocked in.”
Maguire will now face either World Champion Judd Trump or fellow Glaswegian John Higgins in next week’s Semi-Finals.