Robertson wins dramatic Masters semi-final

Venue: Alexandra Palace, London Dates: 9-16 January
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button, BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app

Neil Robertson fought back from 4-1 down to win a dramatic final-frame decider against Mark Williams and reach the final of the Masters.

Robertson began with a century but then watched on as Williams took control by going 4-1 up.

However, the 2012 champion made breaks of 83, 95 and 119 to win four of the next five frames and got two snookers in the finale to clinch the win 6-5.

Robertson will play Barry Hawkins or Judd Trump in Sunday’s final.

In an extraordinary conclusion to the match, Williams looked on course for his first Masters final in almost two decades, making a break of 67 after the Australian had missed an easy red.

But after a prolonged battle, with the final red and black hovering precariously over the bottom left corner pocket, Robertson succeeded in getting two snookers, the second on the yellow, before making a nerveless clearance on the colours.

Speaking immediately after the match, a visibly emotional Robertson told BBC Sport: “Just never give up. If there are any kids watching this, it doesn’t matter how it looks. There was something so special about coming out to the decider with everyone on their feet.

“To have a match that finishes like that, you will probably never see that ever again in the sport. I needed two snookers at 5-5 and Mark played an amazing shot where he clipped the red away.

“I have got nothing to lose [now] because I was out of the tournament, so it might make me a bit of dangerous man tomorrow.”

Neil Robertson has reached three Masters finals in the past, winning once in 2012

Williams’ ‘twitch’ costs him

Having already dispatched defending champion Yan Bingtao and four-time world champion John Higgins on his run to the last four, the momentum appeared to be with Williams as he attempted to claim a third Masters crown, 19 years after his last.

And while Robertson started imperiously with a break of 102, the Welshman responded with breaks of 59, 71, 60 and 60 to take command.

He also made further breaks of 91 and 67, but was noticeably more twitchy with the winning line in sight and paid the price for a couple of missed blacks at 5-3 and on his final break against a player he has not beaten over this distance since 2011.

“If the black goes in on 67, he [Robertson] doesn’t come back to the table,” a rueful Williams said.

“I had a big fluke to make the 67. I have lost a snooker match and it looked like I should have won it. I twitched a black to win 6-3 and I suppose that came back to bite me.”

‘An unbelievable game of snooker’ – analysis

Seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry on BBC Two:

“We could not see how it was going to resolve itself when the black and red were together, and it was one of the shots of the season from Mark Williams to clip the red away.

“I feel for Mark. That is a horrible way to lose. He had a couple of chances to win the match, but his arm was like jelly at the end.”

Shaun Murphy, 2005 world champion on BBC Two:

“You could see how emotional Neil was. It was an unbelievable game of snooker. It was phenomenal. We had everything – big breaks, drama, and we will never see a finish to a match like that with the balls wedged in the pockets.

“Somehow, Neil managed to drag himself out of the grave and managed to get over the line.”

Selby seeks support

Meanwhile, world champion Mark Selby said he has suffered “a relapse” and is struggling with his mental health.

Selby was thrashed 6-1 by Barry Hawkins in his quarter-final on Friday and is now aiming to get help, tweeting that “trying to bottle it up and put a brave face on is not the way” forward.

Snooker’s governing body, the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association, subsequently offered help, with chairman Jason Ferguson saying: “We are always sorry to hear if any of our players are going through difficult times.

“Support is there for Mark and any other playing member on the WST.”

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