Masters 2022 - Neil Robertson beats Mark Williams in drama-filled, epic final frame to book place in final
Mark Williams and Neil Robertson locked horns in the semi-finals of the Masters at the Alexandra Palace on Saturday. Robertson arrived at the venue with a perfect record against the Welshman at the Masters, having won their previous three meetings. It was Robertson who emerged on top with a dramatic win.
'This is incredible snooker' - Robertson beats Williams to reach Masters final
Robertson opened the match with a poor break, but Williams broke down on 22. It proved a costly failure, as with the reds split Robertson got in a short while later and for the second round in a row, he opened his match with a century.
The Australian's ton sent a strong message, but Williams responded with an excellent run of 59. He knocked in a number of tricky pots, and it helped him level the match and show Robertson he would not be bowed.
The hallmark of Williams’ play in the first two rounds was his stellar cue-ball control. It was on show in the third, as he manoeuvred the white superbly in a break of 71 to move ahead.
Robertson was rock-solid in his win over Ronnie O’Sullivan in the quarter-finals, but after being kept cold for two frames he blinked in the fourth. After a rapid break of 53, he inexplicably missed a routine pink. Errors are only costly if they are punished. Williams has won many frames in his storied career on the back of mistakes from his opponents, and he cashed in ruthlessly with a break of 60 to secure a lead at the interval.
Williams had the bit between his teeth going into the interval, and carried the momentum into the fifth frame. He broke down on a break of 43, but Robertson failed to respond and the Welshman pounced to take a three-frame lead.
For the first time in the contest, Williams looked human. He had two chances to open up a four-frame lead, but he passed them up and Robertson cashed in despite looking frustrated - and remonstrated with referee Rob Spencer at the end of the frame, seemingly unhappy with a disturbance in the crowd.
'Settled the nerves' - Robertson makes a century clearance in first frame against Williams
Robertson returned to the arena after the frame and once again had words with Spencer, but whatever was bothering him he put out of his mind as he knocked in a break of 93 to get back within one.
It was now Williams whose body-language was not great. He made a mess of a safety, but a double kiss sent the red into left middle. He looked extremely sheepish as he walked round the table, but is not one to pass up presents and he stroked in a break of 91 to move within one frame of victory
A chance came and went for Williams in the ninth, as he missed a black off the spot when in the balls and was made to sit in his seat and watch as Robertson hoovered up a break of 95 to cut the gap to one.
Safety errors from Williams are extremely rare, but he made one in the 10th when failing to find the bottom cushion. It proved costly, as Robertson raced through the 810th century of his career to set up a decider.
Williams attempted a long, difficult red off Robertson’s break in the decider, but it wriggled in the jaws and presented a chance to his opponent.
Robertson had momentum on his side, but pressure does strange things and he passed up the first opening. A second chance came and went, albeit with the swan neck as he left a red in the jaws.
'That's got to be one of the shots of the match' - Williams plays a miraculous escape
Williams had gone over 25 minutes without potting a ball, but he was able put together a run - albeit aided by an outrageous fluke as he missed a red to left middle, only for it to hit the near knuckle and drop in the yellow pocket.
The two-time Masters winner did not get over the line, but his break left Robertson needing snookers - and the drama began.
Robertson required two snookers but the black was over the bottom left pocket and a red was welded to it. Robertson had the upper hard and got the first of the snookers. A battle of cat-and-mouse ensued, with Williams in all sorts of trouble as there was 12 feet between cue ball and red.
Williams somehow found an escape and moved the red without knocking in the black.
A further safety battle followed, and Robertson got the second of the snookers when Williams fouled the green. The clearance was not easy, but he stroked in the colours with authority to secure his place in the final and a shot at a second Paul Hunter Trophy in Sunday's final.
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