The Tour Championship continues on Tuesday when the second quarter final gets played out at Venue Cymru in Llandudno when the defending champion Neil Robertson takes on Mark Allen in what looks like a cracking contest.
These two men are no strangers to being involved in big matches in the biggest arenas and it would be no surprise if both are inspired by the occasion. If that is the case then this could well turn out to be the cracking match we hope and expect it to be.
The Australian doesn’t just arrive here as the defending champion, he also has the English Open, The Masters and Players Championship titles to his name at the minute which means he is second in the money list for this season which is used to determine the seeds for this event. Robertson hasn’t played in all the competitions this term either so his achievements and ranking look even better when that is taken into consideration.
Robertson is one of the greats of the game and as we said with John Higgins on Monday, the greats generally target the big tournaments and ensure that they peak for them and that is what I expect Robertson to do here. He comes into the event off the back of a surprise loss to Jak Jones in Gibraltar last week but in the main his form has been good for much of the season. His scoring remains on a different level too.
Whatever happens between now and the end of the season this will be one that Mark Allen will look back fondly on because it was the one in which he won his home tournament the Northern Ireland Open. Winning that after a pretty successful start to the campaign near enough ensured that ‘The Pistol’ would be in this tournament and as a former finalist in it I’m sure he won’t be turning up just to make up the numbers. He’ll want to be competitive.
Allen has made one semi-final appearance since he won the Northern Ireland Open. That came at the German Masters and since then while his form hasn’t been fantastic, if you look a little deeper into his results you’ll see that he exited the last three tournaments in a deciding frame and on two occasions the man who beat him went on to win the title that week so maybe his numbers aren’t actually telling the story of how he is playing.
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Head to head
These two have played each other on 19 previous occasions and it is Robertson who holds the edge in those matches. He has 11 wins to the eight of Allen and that advantage is maintained in the frame count where the Australian leads 105-97. This will be the fifth time the pair have met in a quarter final. Allen has the better of things at this stage of proceedings having won three of their past four matches at this part of an event. They have met over the best of 19 frames on four previous occasions. Those four matches have been shared 2-2 so history would edge with Robertson but not by a whole lot.
These two have met in four previous matches over this 19 frame distance and there have been no fewer than 21 centuries between them in those outings so when they meet in the bigger contests they clearly inspire each other to bring the best out of their game. I see no reason why that is going to change here given that they have the stage to themselves and will be all too aware of just how big this tournament is going to get over the course of the week.
Allen has made 30 centuries this season, eight of which came in his run to the last four of the German Masters so he is scoring pretty impressively. Robertson is a century hunting machine these days and with £10,000 for the highest break this week and only a target of 128 to beat so far there is no reason why these two won’t look to convert breaks into monster efforts. The table looked to be playing lovely on the opening day and I fancy these two will force another four centuries out of each other here.
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