Neil Robertson found form towards the end of the opening session of his meeting with Jack Lisowski to take a 5-3 lead in their second-round clash at the World Championship.
After impressing in disposing of Liang Wenbo 10-3 in the first round, Robertson took some time to find his feet and was second-best for much of Thursday evening.
However, he won three frames on the spin at the end of the session to take a lead in to Friday afternoon.
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Two of the most attacking players in the game served up a 25-minute opener, with Robertson getting over the line only after Lisowski went in-off on the final red after snagging two snookers.
Robertson has repeatedly spoken about playing matches on his terms, and not getting dragged into long exchanges.
A meeting with Lisowski looked an ideal scenario for the 2010 winner, but the second frame followed a similar, lengthy, pattern to the first. Robertson got in front but did not put the frame away, which invited a counter.
Lisowski failed to put it away at a single visit and a lengthy safety battle ensued, which went Lisowski’s way after over half an hour.
Two frames in an hour was not what was predicted.
The third frame saw alarming safety errors from both, and Robertson paid the heaviest price as Lisowski pounced on the Australian’s mistake to knock in a break of 85.
The pattern continued in the fourth, with Robertson edging ahead only to fail to kill off the frame and being made to work extremely hard to keep his advantage. The Australian fouled the black in bizarre circumstances when Lisowski required a snooker, but he failed to clear and Robertson was able to level the scores at 2-2 at the interval.
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For two fluent players, it took until the fifth frame for the first one-visit kill of the match - with Lisowski freeing his arm to knock in a break of 81. A horrid kick on a red into the left middle dashed his hopes of a century.
Robertson said on the eve of the tournament that he would rather go for an ambitious pot and lose a frame than get dragged into the weeds. He was true to his word in the sixth when lashing at a long red while bridging over the green. He missed by a distance, but was fortunate to see Lisowski miss a long green and was able to level up the match.
For all he had been bogged down for much of the session, Robertson edged ahead with his most fluent contribution of the match in the seventh. He got in well, split the pack with authority and in the blink of an eye rolled in a 135, the 781st century of his career.
After being the better player for much of the evening, Lisowski cut a frustrated figure in the final frame and paid the price for going for an ambitious red into the right middle. Robertson stepped in to make a 76 to secure a 5-3 lead.
While Lisowski probably did not envisage the game turning into a war of attrition, it may be his best way to topple Robertson and he will need to regroup ahead of the second session.
Mark Selby made short work of the two frames he required to see off Kurt Maflin.
Selby was impressive in opening up an 8-1 lead in the opening session, and he took the first two frames to clinch a 10-1 win.
The three-time winner’s pot-success rate was 95% and it sets him up nicely for his meeting with Mark Allen in round two.
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