NEIL ROBERTSON pinpointed an amazing escape act in the second round as his springboard to glory after he beat Graeme Dott in the final of the Betfred.com World Championship.
The 28-year-old from Melbourne draped himself in the Australia flag and kissed the trophy following his 18-13 victory over Dott, which finished at 12.54am this morning.
That matched the latest Crucible final finish – John Higgins completed his victory over Mark Selby at the same time in 2007.
As he became the first champion from outside the UK and Ireland since Canada's Cliff Thorburn in 1980, and climbed to No2 in the world rankings, Robertson revealed how he was inspired by his recovery from 11-5 behind to win 13-12 against Martin Gould.
“I checked out of my apartment and I was just thinking, ‘Okay, last 16, whatever, I've blown my chances of a top-four finish',” he said.
“But now, a week and a half later, I'm a world champion. It's absolutely amazing. “It was incredible to come from 11-5 down and to still be in the tournament. I think that was definitely the key to winning it. I knew if I could overcome that I could overcome anything.”
The final was a disappointment in terms of quality, and the 44-minute and 47-minute frames in the closing session bordered on the tedious.
But that did not matter to a delighted Robertson, who said: “I just seriously can't believe it. It was a titanic struggle of a match, it really, really was.
“The pressure before the final and during the final was absolutely unbelievable. Obviously, there's so much at stake and you wonder if you'll ever get the chance again.
“I had so many added pressures: my mum came over the day of the final; obviously I knew what the potential could be for this back home in Australia, and all the people back home, my family and everyone else.”
Robertson admitted it was a struggle to find any momentum: “I couldn't get into a really good flow and break away and play fluent snooker. Graeme just kept pulling me back,” he said.
Dott said: “It was a scrappy game. I don't think anyone could say we tried to play negatively, we were both trying to perform. I tried as hard as I could but there was nothing which was going to change the outcome of the match.”
However, the final showdown was somewhat overshadowed by the match-fixing allegations surrounding last year's champion John Higgins, which surfaced just hours before the contest got underway.
Giving his reaction to the story which has rocked the sport to its core, Robertson said: “It took me by absolute surprise, but I don't really know enough about it to comment about it.”