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Xtra | Xtra

Robertson comes back to down ding



Reigning champion Neil Robertson started the defence of his Masters title by winning the last three frames to beat China's Ding Junhui 6-5 in a tense first round clash at London's Alexandra Palace.

The Australian appeared to be heading for an early exit as Ding established a 5-3 lead on Sunday after several sizeable breaks in the invitational event's opening match.

But contributions of 100, 62 and a clinching 90 in the final frame saw Robertson complete a victory which he celebrated with a shout of "You beauty" as the decisive red dropped into the pocket.

Robertson, the 2010 world champion, defended what some traditionalists would regard as a breach of snooker etiquette in celebrating before the match was over by saying: "Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Tiger Woods when he rolls in a 12-footer to win a major, they all show emotion. It's good to see passion."

Left-hander Robertson went into an early 2-0 lead before Ding drew level at 2-2 after breaks of 103 and 53.

The next two frames were shared, with Ding making a break of 127 in the sixth.

Ding then took the lead for the first time and was on the verge of victory at 5-3, with a long-range pink the outstanding shot in a break of 54.

However, Robertson fought back with an even century.

Even so, his Chinese opponent, the 2011 Masters champion, was all but into the second round only for his break of 50 in the 10th frame to end when his attempt to split the pack of a blue went wrong and left him with little alternative but to play a safety shot.

Robertson, putting the pressure of the situation to one side, held his nerve with a break of 62 to level at 5-5 before dominating the deciding frame after potting a long red.

"He was unlucky to go into the pack off the blue," said Robertson. "If the white had run another inch, it would have been all over.

"But I am in a fortunate position to be able to try and defend my title. I'm not having an easy run in terms of opponents as he played fantastically well.

"If I was told I could play like that for the rest of the tournament I would be happy."

Melbourne-born Robertson is attempting to become only the fourth player – after Canada's Cliff Thorburn (1985 and 1986), Scotland's Stephen Hendry (who won this event five times in a row from 1989-1993) and the late Paul Hunter (2001 and 2002) – to mount a successful defence of the Masters title.

There was no comparable tension in Sunday's other match, with Mark Allen of Northern Ireland easing to a 6-2 win over England's Mark Davis.



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