We saw Barry Hawkins secure his place in the Players Championship final on Friday evening and on Saturday night his opponent will be confirmed when Neil Robertson meets Jimmy Robertson for a shot at glory in the second Cazoo Series event of the season.
Both these men have played some tidy snooker inside the Aldersley Arena this week and will be hoping to have their best stuff with them as they look to set up a meeting with Hawkins over two sessions of play on Sunday.
When you consider that Neil Robertson hasn’t played in many events this season, for him to be a win away from a fourth title on the campaign speaks volumes of the wonderful snooker he is playing at the minute when he does line up. Robertson won the English Open in the early part of the season and then last month added The Masters title to that. He was also beaten in the final of the World Grand Prix to round off 2021 as well so the Australian is no stranger to going deep in tournaments this term.
That has been evidenced this week where he has seen off two of the top five players in the world in Kyren Wilson and Ronnie O’Sullivan. He has beaten them both despite not being at his best physically after a recent bout of Covid, but he has done it in a dominant fashion with a barrage of heavy breaks as is his typical style. Robertson knows he is a huge favourite here but in the main that is a tag which he carries pretty well so he’ll take some beating here.
I would imagine just being in this tournament in the first place was a brilliant achievement for Jimmy Robertson. I don’t say that with any disrespect or anything else because this is a man who has won a ranking event title, but it is only ten months ago he went to World Championship qualifying fighting for his place on the tour. He stayed on and now he is in the top 16 of the rankings for this season and thanks to his exploits this week is climbing those quickly.
Robertson has seen off two very good players this week in Luca Brecel and the defending champion John Higgins and he has had a bit to spare in both outings which will give him confidence. You sensed he was already carrying some of that anyway after his run to the last four of the British Open at the beginning of the campaign but if he needed any more than outplaying Higgins in the quarter final will certainly have given him it. He’ll know he needs to be close to his best here but if he is he can certainly be competitive.
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Head to head
These two have met on five previous occasions and while Jimmy won the first of them, Neil has won each of their last four matches and when you look at the frame count he has won them pretty convincingly as he holds a 19-8 lead on that front. This will be the first time they have met in a semi-final so that is something new for both men. It will actually be their first meeting since 2017 so Jimmy Robertson will be hoping history has no bearing on this contest. This is their first meeting over the best of 11 frames so how much we can take from their previous battles remains to be seen.
We can guarantee that a Robertson will win this match but the question is which one. Neil Robertson begins as a warm favourite and it is hard to disagree with that, not least because you sense if Jimmy Robertson is going to win this one he’ll need an open match where he can bring his scoring power to the fore. The only problem with that is not many players can outscore the Australian so Jimmy Robertson will need his very best stuff to win here.
I’m not going to rule out the outsider completely, he has beaten two form horses in Luca Brecel and John Higgins this week already but I’ve a feeling he’ll be competitive in this match. Rather than take him to cover a handicap which will need him to win four frames though, the bet I like is for him to make over 2.5 50+ breaks. He has only won eight frames against his namesake in their five meetings but he has rattled in nine 50 breaks in those outings and has put together 10 of them this week already. Jimmy Robertson won’t win many frames without a 50 in this semi-final so I’ll back him to make three of those which gives him a chance of landing this bet without covering the handicap.
Back J.Robertson – Over 2.5 50+ breaks for a 3/10 stake at 1.80 with Betfair
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