Arena Ursynow, Warsaw, Poland
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Neil Robertson has had a fantastic run in the past few years, winning at least one ranking title every year since the 2006 Grand Prix, including his capture of the 2010 Betfred.com World Snooker Championship. But recently the Australian's form was in doubt and since winning the World Open last year he hasn't won a event, ranking or other.
But in the last few PTC's his form was much improved and from PTC2 onwards he has featured in the last 16 or better in all but one. On the route to the final in Poland he beat the likes of Peter Ebdon, Stephen Maguire and Shaun Murphy (all by a 4-3 scoreline) and then had a commanding 4-0 victory over Stephen Lee in the semi-finals to set up a final with Ricky Walden.
It was a return to form for Ricky Walden who since dropping out of the top 16 last season and losing 10-6 to Rory McLeod in the first round of the Betfred.com World Championship he has struggled to find any rythym but he beat Judd Trump in the quarter-finals and fought off a resurgent Steve Davis who found some form of old in this tournament in the semi-finals to set up the clash with Robertson.
Robertson won the first with a break of 76. Chester-based Walden hit back strongly with a break of 62 to level the match. The Australian then took a strong lead with breaks of 69 and 95 to give him a commanding 3-1 lead in this best of 7 match. Walden looked good to take the next frame with a break of 46 but Robertson hit back straight away with a 68 clearance to secure victory.
Photo - Monique Limbos 2010
"I couldn't have had a tougher draw as I've beaten the likes of Peter Ebdon, Stephen Maguire and Shaun Murphy to reach the final," said Robertson, who has now won a tournament carrying ranking points in each of the last six years.
"I had been on a good run of form recently with a couple of semi-finals and I was really disappointed to lose in the semis of the Shanghai Masters. That was a wake up call because you have to be efficient in the final stages of tournaments. It's all about winning them because that's what you'll be remembered for. So I'm really pleased to convert this one.
"The PTC events are tiring and you have to really keep your concentration, so when I got the semis I made sure I knuckled down and stayed focussed."
Robertson, who moves up one place in the world rankings to fourth, believes there is potential for snooker to grow in Poland. "The crowds have been fantastic in all of my matches," he said. "That makes it easier to play because it gives you a buzz, and hopefully the people who came will go away with good memories. In Germany it took a few years for the support to grow and now we have a full ranking event there, so hopefully something similar can happen in Poland."
Quotes - World Snooker
As far as I could see the crowds have been quite good all week in Warsaw. Not the same levels as the Paul Hunter Classic in Germany a few weeks back but definitely still a decent attendance so there is an interest for more snooker here and if they can find a gap in the calendar i'm sure they could stage a full ranking event here in a similar style to the German Masters in Berlin.
Big thanks also goes Iza Morska & Mikołaj Ochman on Facebook who have been providing us with photos from the event, see their albums here which also includes the set up of the event in the sports hall.
The next tournament is PTC7 (also known as the Kay Suzanne Memorial Trophy) which starts next Friday at the South West Snooker Academy. More information about the event in Gloucester and how to buy tickets to see the likes of Ronnie O'Sullivan, Judd Trump and Neil Robertson up close and personal here.
Once again well done to Neil Robertson and all the best for the rest of the season!
View Neil Robertson's profile page here.