Neil Robertson pulled off a 10-4 rout of Ronnie O’Sullivan to emphatically claim the 2021 Tour Championship title at Celtic Manor on Sunday.
The duo were locked at four apiece following a high quality opening session, but Robertson ran riot upon their return, reeling off six frames without reply.
The Australian ace produced five century breaks in a pulsating performance as he claimed his 20th career ranking title.
The victory avenged his defeat to O’Sullivan in the 2019 Tour Championship final and resigned ‘The Rocket’ to his fifth consecutive ranking final defeat of the season.
“I’ve beaten Ronnie before but never over a multiple session match,” Robertson told ITV Sport. “If I’m going to compete for the World Championship this year, that’s the sort of performance I have to put in.
“I have to be there in every session and I’ve done that in all of my matches this week.
“Playing Ronnie in the final, the crowd adds a different dynamic, you have to admit that.
“It’s different when he’s got 90 per cent of the crowd with him and he’s got his tail up so that’s going to add something in the World Championship that all the other players need to be prepared for when they face him.
“I’ve played really well all week, my preparation was fantastic and I just tried to maintain the tempo and play the game on my terms.
“Being from overseas, it just adds something completely different which the majority of the tour don’t really face.
“There are more overseas players joining the tour now, which is great, and it makes me feel good about what Ding and I have been able to do because it was all British domination of the sport.”
After O’Sullivan had won a cagey opening frame, Robertson replied with a clinical break of 103 to level.
O’Sullivan, though hit back with a trademark ton of his own, compiling a 128 break to regain the lead, but only for Robertson to fire in consecutive breaks of 70 and 133 to go 3-2 ahead.
The reigning UK Champion moved two clear before O’Sullivan stopped the rot with a sublime break of 133, followed by a 68 as he restored parity at the halfway stage.
However, that would prove to be the six-time World Champion’s last meaningful contribution to the match as he mustered just 26 points in the next six frames.
Robertson kicked off the charge with back-to-back breaks of 93 and 75 to regain a two-frame advantage at 6-4.
He then left O’Sullivan with a mountain to climb, adding consecutive breaks of 123 and 119 to go four clear at the next mid-session interval
A dominant 13th frame left Robertson requiring just one more for victory – which he sealed in sensational style with a break of 114.
“I’ve never seen anyone play as well as that,” admitted O’Sullivan. “His cue action is ridiculous.
“It made him look like he was playing on a pool table.
“I can’t compete with that, I just have to sit back and enjoy it.
On his upcoming World Championship title defence, O’Sullivan added: “Results don’t make me confident, my game makes me confident and if my game’s in good shape I’ll feel confident whether I’ve won tournaments or not.
“If I find a bit of form, you never know, but if this guy [Robertson] keeps playing the way he is then he’ll be the man to beat.”
O’Sullivan’s previous longest ranking final drought came between 2005 and 2007 when he lost three in a row, but he heads to The Crucible in a fortnight’s time looking to equal Stephen Hendry’s record tally of seven world titles.
Robertson has moved above Mark Selby to seventh in the all-time list of ranking event winners, affirming his position as the sport’s greatest overseas cueist.