Saturday 16 December 2017

Sluggish Carter punished by Robertson

John Skilbeck

Neil Robertson outplayed a weary Ali Carter in the first session of their marathon last-four showdown as he began his quest to give Australia their first ever Crucible finalist.

The 28-year-old opened up a 6-2 lead over Carter in their World Championship semi-final, having had the benefit of an early-afternoon finish to his previous match.

By contrast Carter had a late night, taking out Shaun Murphy in a final-frame quarter-final decider, and then found it difficult to settle down and sleep. When he arrived in the Crucible yesterday afternoon, the 30-year-old's start was sluggish.

So sluggish, in fact, that he lost the opening five frames and from that position to finish as he did was a minor success.

Carter has dismissed his chances of winning the world title, but that has been part of an exercise in self-kidology.

"I've no hope of winning. It's wanting to win that sometimes makes you lose," he said.

"I've lost myself too many tournaments before through wanting it too badly. It stops you getting it which is a funny thing, and it's only when you get a bit older that you realise you have to let things come at their own pace. When I'm lifting the trophy, that's when I'll think I can win it."

Robertson went 4-0 ahead after breaks of 124 and 91 before winning the third frame from a position where he required a snooker.

That lead was extended by a break of 76 in the fifth frame, but Carter eventually stepped up his performance and edged a tight frame before Robertson dominated the next.

Carter (below), runner-up in 2008, compiled breaks of 38 and 69 in frame eight to trim Robertson's lead again.

In the second semi-final, Graeme Dott was once again highly impressive against title favourite Mark Selby, dominating the scoring with breaks of 79, 53, 70, 50 and 93 as he developed a 5-3 lead. But Selby won the final frame of the night with his first fluent break, a total clearance of 142, to at least end on a high.

Selby had invested plenty of mental energy into the fightback he produced to oust Ronnie O'Sullivan yesterday, and it was unsurprising to see him slightly flat for most of the session.

The seventh frame was interrupted when, amid a safety battle, Selby made a necessary toilet break. Dott was unflustered, saw humour in the situation, and won the frame with his run of 93.

Until the final frame Selby had been anything but fluent, however his form returned as he made the first century of the match, which has only been bettered in this championship by Mark Allen's 146.

Eearlier, Dott revealed how close he came to quitting the game because of depression. The 32-year-old Glaswegian's father-in-law and former manager Alex Lambie died in 2006 after a battle with cancer, while Dott's wife Elaine also suffered a miscarriage and also had a cancer scare.

Live, BBC, Eurosport from 10.0am

Irish Independent

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