- The Masters
Robertson sees off wasteful Murphy to set up Selby clash
Neil Robertson's metronomic form returned against Shaun Murphy as he put himself 10 frames away from back-to-back Masters titles, but he will have to overcome Mark Selby in the final following his battling win over Graeme Dott.
The Australian's route to the semi-final featured two matches which went the full distance but his 6-2 victory over Murphy proved that he could marry high scoring with ruthless finishing.
En route to victory he hit two centuries along with an 85 and an 84. His prowess was highlighted further by Murphy's struggles to get beyond the 40s.
In a repeat of last year's final, which Robertson won 10-6, Murphy was his own worst enemy but he was always having to chase the Thunder from Down Under at Alexandra Palace.
The world No. 5's first century was a 132 break to take a 2-1 lead. But Murphy, 30, looked like he would level matters ahead of the interval when he held a healthy lead with only one red remaining on the table.
Yet Robertson got the snooker he needed by forcing Murphy to hit the black when going for the green, and stole the frame away from him for a 3-1 lead. The fifth frame lasted 39 minutes and featured an intriguing battle around the blue and pink. Murphy almost let his lead slip again but was given enough chances by Robertson to make it 3-2.
That was as close as Murphy would get to Robertson as his 40-break habit continued to impede him in the sixth when he missed a red on 43. Robertson cleared with an impressive 85 and followed that up with a 127 to lead 5-2.
Murphy, however, would still rightly have believed he could dig himself out of his hole. At the semi-final stage of the UK Championship last month "The Magician" came back from 8-4 down to beat Ali Carter 9-8.
He had an excellent chance to start a potential comeback in the next frame after Robertson twice failed to sink the yellow. But Murphy erred as well, from potable positions, and Robertson cleaned up.
After the match the reigning champion stressed that his ability to capitalise on errors was a key component to his game.
"With how I have been playing this week I have been really pouncing on mistakes," Robertson said. "I have been making big breaks so I guess it can be in the back of my opponent's mind that if they miss I am going to clear up. It's what I have been doing all week which is really important, that's why I was going on about the positional play because you have got to punish people. You can't just come back to the table and make 30 and run out of position."
Selby produced a stunning fightback to beat Graeme Dott 6-5 in a late-night finish.
Breaks of 111 and 75 had Dott 4-1 ahead and was one pot away from making it 5-1, but he left a black in the jaws and Selby fired back to level at 4-4.
Dott edged the ninth frame, but Selby knocked in a 65 to force a decider and a gritty half-century edged him over the line.