Snooker: Neil Robertson First Australian World Champion

For the first time ever, the world snooker championship has thrown up a new champion from outside the British Isles.

Australia’s Robertson beat Dott of Scotland in a nerve racking final marked by a single century by Dott, and a highest of 90 by his Australian rival, who had 7 century breaks, in earlier rounds, in the 17-day tournament.

Preferring safety and tenacity to flamboyance, Robertson cashed in on his long-potting skills to bank the £250,000 cheque he received for his feat in the battle of attrition.

The new world champion was all but out of the 5 world snooker championship 2023 tournament, when he rallied from a 5-11 disadvantage in the pre-quarterfinal against Martin Gould. The final score against Dott was 18-13, and the match ended with Robertson taking the last three frames. The ending was prolonged past noon time, similar to John Higgins’ victory over Mark Selby in 2007. That was also at the same venue.

Robertson was the first Australian to reach the final since Eddie Charlton in 1975; on that occasion Charlton was beaten by Ray Reardon 31-30.

The final between Robertson and Dott was a best-of-35-frames affair and after the penultimate session of the match, the Scotsman was still hanging in, trailing at 9-7. He began the last session with a winning run of 79; Robertson took the next two frames, the third with a run of 82, and the score then stood at 11-8.

With the huge stake involved, both players took plenty of time planning their next moves; Robertson in particular appeared to weigh every shot before playing it. On average Robertson took 29 seconds for each shot, while his Scot opponent took 23 seconds, which was also well above Dott’s usual time.

In fact, at a certain point, during the 20th frame, Robertson took over four minutes deciding what shot to play, when his turn came following a foul by Dott. Finally, he decided to hand the shot back to Dott. Dott eventually took that frame but not before 34 minutes had elapsed, thanks to all the planning and thinking that the players indulged in.

The late Charlton was the last of a line of great Australian players in an era when Australia kept pace with Britain. That era ended with Charlton who was not only a great player but was also a tireless champion of the sport and organized promotion events and competitions.

With the win, Robertson has risen to number two in world rankings. Robertson’s win could catalyze interest for snooker in Australia, four decades after Eddie Charlton ended as runner-up, thrice, in world championships.


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