Image Credit: World Snooker Tour

In a dramatic BetVictor English Open final in Milton Keynes, Neil Robertson came back from an 8-6 deficit to defeat John Higgins 9-8

Robertson’s English Open final victory earns him his 21st career ranking championship, putting him one ahead of Mark Selby (20) and just one behind Judd Trump (22). He is currently ranked 7th all-time.  WORLD RANKINGS

Robertson will be happy to win the final frame this evening after suffering heartbreak in this event 12 months ago at the hands of Judd Trump. On that occasion, the Australian came up short by a score of 9-8.

Higgins has now lost six of his previous seven major finals, despite being a 31-time ranking event champion. This defeat will be especially tough to accept given that he just lost the BetVictor Northern Ireland Open final against Mark Allen 9-8, after leading 8-6.

Robertson now has an 8-8 tie with Higgins in the head-to-head matchup. The match was only the second time the two had clashed in a ranking final. The first was at the 2013 Wuxi Classic, where Robertson won the final match 10-7 over Higgins.

In the afternoon session, it was Robertson who took the lead, claiming a merited 5-3 victory. When play resumed this evening, Scotland’s Higgins came out of the fire.

The four-time World Champion came back to win the first three games of the session to take a 6-5 lead in the match. In the 12th frame, there was a lot of drama.

After what seemed to be a kick, Robertson missed the final green. On the next shot, Higgins then missed another opportunity, leaving the green above the pocket and Robertson snookered behind the brown. He hit it, but the green didn’t fall, and Higgins won the frame to take a 7-5 lead at the midpoint of the session.

When play resumed, Robertson came within a frame with a break of 80, but Higgins took the 14th to take a two-frame lead with three frames to go at 8-6. Robertson cut the lead in half by winning the 15th and then sealed the match with a brilliant break of 120.

Robertson grabbed the first chances, but a pack cut off the yellow and he was left with nothing. Higgins then got a chance of his own, but he missed a tough red to the upper right corner after falling out of position. Robertson was left with a long-range cut to the same pocket, which he dutifully deposited and hit 65 from to win 9-8.

“As a kid, he was one I looked up to completely. “I’d always wanted to meet him, but to be sharing a table with him in a final is incredible,” Robertson, 39, said.

“Earlier this week, I said that I had won the Welsh and Scottish Opens. To win the English Open and the Steve Davis Trophy, just the Northern Ireland Open remains. Next year, I’ll have to focus on that one and win the entirety.

“At the Northern Ireland Open a few weeks back, I watched the decider. On one, I was pleased for Mark Allen to win in his home, but I also felt bad for John because I enjoy watching great champions win. That’s just the way he is; he has totally destroyed a number of opponents in his career.

There will be many people in that crowd tonight who have had a difficult time in the last 18 months or so. I was delighted to see so many people cheering and having a good time. That is the most important thing to remember from this. Sport is making a comeback.”

“This afternoon I was a little fatigued, but Neil made me tired,” Higgins said. It was like when the snake put Mowgli to sleep in the Jungle Book. He’s an unbelievable cueist and player. “I was on the point of falling asleep because he kept hitting the ball and hitting the backs of the pockets.” It was fantastic to share a final with him, considering he is one of the greatest stars of all time.

“It was great to share a final with him, as he is one of the best ever. It was a great final to be involved in, I came out the loser again but every credit to him. He was fantastic.”

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