Neil Robertson wins dramatic semi-final with Stuart Bingham 9-8 at the williamhill.com UK Championship (From York Press)
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Neil Robertson wins dramatic semi-final with Stuart Bingham 9-8 at the williamhill.com UK Championship
NEIL ROBERTSON will bid to join an exclusive club on Sunday after beating Stuart Bingham 9-8 to reach the final of the williamhill.com UK Championship – but he will be mightily relieved to be there at all.
Only seven players, legends of the game including Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry and Alex Higgins, have won the Triple Crown – the World Championship, Masters and UK – and the Australian has the chance to become the eighth but only after Bingham threatened to pull off one of the biggest comebacks in the tournament's history.
Trailing 2-1, and following breaks of 72 and 88 from Bingham, Robertson won seven of the next eight frames to take command.
But his Essex opponent fought back superbly from 8-3 to level at 8-8, only to fall at the final hurdle as Robertson somehow re-gathered himself for a mighty effort.
Under enormous pressure, having spent the best part of the previous five frames sitting helplessly in his seat, he put together a fine break of 59, which included a quite nerveless half-ball red into the yellow pocket.
Still there was drama. Robertson missed a match ball red with the rest, fouling the brown in the process.
But with the balls spread all over the table, it was always going to hugely difficult for Bingham. He smashed in a wonderful double, cut a thin black to the middle pocket and did everything possible to fashion a winning chance.
In the event, though, it was Robertson who scraped over the line. Barely.
The conqueror of Ronnie O’Sullivan in the last eight, Bingham should really have taken all of the first four frames but lost two from dominating positions and, after the interval, Robertson was utterly ruthless.
Bingham gave himself hope for the evening session, returning at 5-3 after winning the eighth frame with a break of 78 but he lost a tight opener on the resumption.
He looked dispirited, throwing his cue desperately at some long reds, and, when a difficult pot across the table into the left corner failed to drop and Robertson grabbed the frame, it looked merely a matter of time before the latter celebrated victory.
A break of 81 to move 8-3 ahead only underlined his superiority but Bingham dug in – an effort of 85 meaning the match reached the mid-session interval.
A fluked green, when snookered behind the brown, bagged the next and, when Bingham thumped in a break of 86 to make it 8-6, an amazing comeback was suddenly a real possibility.
Cueing with abandon, Bingham also made 45 in the 15th frame but missed a black to the corner pocket and, after a brief safety exchange, Robertson was finally able to get something he had been missing over the previous couple of frames – table time.
But he missed a long red on 38 and, left with a relatively routine pot to the middle pocket, Bingham took full advantage.
It was inevitable then that he would draw level and he did so in classy style with a break of 107.
Robertson, though, found new reserves and, in a tortuous shootout, cut in the key red to the corner pocket to scrape over the line.
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