Sport country: Australia
Highest ranking: ¹ 1
Highest break: 141
Career winnings: £2,395,385
Nickname: The Thunder from Down Under, The Melbourne Machine,
RoboCop, The Centurion Neiltime
Tournament wins: 19
World Champion: 1 (2010)
Neil Robertson (born 11 February 1982) is an Australian professional snooker player. He made his first breakthrough into the top professional ranks in the 2006/2007 season. He won the 2010 World Championship and was the world number one later in the same year, a ranking that he attained again in 2013 and also in 2014.
Robertson is the only Australian to have won a ranking event, and was undefeated in his first six televised finals. Robertson is also one of eleven players to win both the world and UK titles, and one of ten to win the triple crown of World Championship, UK Championship and Masters. During the 2013/2014 season he became the first player to make 100 centuries in a single season.
Robertson is considered Australia's best ever snooker player, as well as one of the best overseas players (i.e. from outside the United Kingdom) in the sport's history. He plays left-handed.
Life and career
Robertson began his snooker career at 14, when he became the youngest player to make a century break in an Australian ranking event. He began his professional career in the 1998/1999 season. Then, when he was 17 years old, he reached the third qualifying round of the 1999 World Championship.
In July 2003, Robertson won the World Under-21 Snooker Championship in New Zealand. This earned him a vital wildcard spot on the subsequent WPBSA Main Tour. In 2003 he won the qualifying tournament for a wildcard place at the 2004 Masters, where he subsequently lost 2–6 to Jimmy White in the first round.
In 2004/2005 season, he moved up to the top 32 in the rankings, reaching the final stages of 6 of the 8 tournaments, despite having to play at least 2 qualifying matches for each one. He qualified for the final stages of the 2005 World Championship, losing 7–10 to Stephen Hendry in the first round.
In the 2005/2006 season, he continued to progress, moving up to the top 16 of the rankings at the end of the season. He reached 4 quarter-finals in the season, including the 2006 World Championships, in which he fought back from 8–12 down to level at 12–12 against eventual champion Graeme Dott, before losing the final frame by inadvertently potting the final pink, which he needed on the table in his attempts to snooker the Scotsman.
Breakthrough: first ranking title
He made his breakthrough in the 2006/2007 season. After finishing top of his group at the 2006 Grand Prix's round robin stage (he lost only one match: his opener against Nigel Bond by 2–3), Robertson then beat Ronnie O'Sullivan 5–1 in the quarter-finals of the event. So he went on to the semi-finals, being only the fourth Australian ever to do so in a ranking event. He beat Alan McManus 6–2 in the semis, to reach his first major final, where he faced a fellow first-time finalist, the unseeded Jamie Cope, whom he beat comfortably by 9–5 to win his first ever professional ranking tournament. The win earned Robertson £60,000, his highest amount of money earned in one tournament.
Robertson had early exits in both the UK Championship and the Masters, but found his form again en route to the final of the Welsh Open. He defeated Stephen Hendry 5–3, making a break of 141 in the last frame, then recovered from 4–3 down to beat Ronnie O'Sullivan 5–4 in the quarter-finals. He beat Steve Davis 6–3 in the semi-finals, and surprise finalist Andrew Higginson 9–8 in the final to take the title. He led 6–2 after the first session, then dropped six frames in a row to come within one frame of defeat, but took the remaining three frames to win the match.
He reached the second round of the 2007 World Championship, losing 10–13 to Ronnie O'Sullivan despite at one stage winning six frames in a row.
Robertson started 2007/2008 season poorly, making early exits in three of the first four ranking events, plus the 2008 Masters and 2008 Malta Cup. He did reach the quarter-finals of the 2007 Northern Ireland Trophy after wins over Jamie Cope and Ian McCulloch. He finished the season ranked 10th, but outside the top sixteen on the one-year list.
After a disappointing start to the 2008/2009 season, Robertson reached the final of the 2008 Bahrain Championship, where he played Matthew Stevens. The match lasted almost 6 hours in total, with the Australian edging it 9–7. During the 2009 Masters Robertson and opponent Stephen Maguire set a record of 5 consecutive century breaks. Robertson made 2 centuries, and Maguire made 3, with the 3rd sealing a 6–3 win over the Australian. At the 2009 World Championship Robertson defeated Steve Davis, Ali Carter and Stephen Maguire to reach the semi-finals of the World Championship for the first time, before losing to Shaun Murphy 14–17 (after at one stage recovering from 7–14 behind to level at 14–14).
In October 2009, Robertson clinched the 2009 Grand Prix trophy in Glasgow with a 9–4 win over China's Ding Junhui in the final. His semi-final match with defending champion John Higgins was won on the final black of the deciding frame. Robertson's fourth title made him the most successful player from outside the UK and Ireland in ranking tournaments, although Ding equalled his total at that season's UK Championship. He achieved his 100th career century during the 2009 Grand Prix.
On 1 April 2010 Robertson made the first official maximum break of his career in his second round match in the 2010 China Open against Peter Ebdon.
At the 2010 World Championship, Robertson defeated Fergal O'Brien 10–5 in the first round. In his second round match against Martin Gould Robertson trailed 0–6 and 5–11 before recovering to win the match 13–12. In the quarter-finals he defeated Steve Davis 13–5. He faced Ali Carter in the semi-finals, winning 17–12 to reach the final. There he defeated 2006 champion Graeme Dott 18–13 to become only the third player from outside the UK (and only the second from outside the UK and Ireland), and the first Australian, to become world champion in the modern era of the game. The win took him to a career-high ranking of No. 2 in the following season. Although the record books show Australian Horace Lindrum triumphed in 1952, that was the year when the sport's leading players staged a boycott and to this day in many circles Lindrum is not regarded as a credible world champion.
Robertson started the new season by losing in the first round of the 2010 Shanghai Masters to Peter Ebdon. However, at the World Open Robertson was drawn in the last 64 against Graeme Dott in a repeat of their world final, Robertson won 3–1 and went on to beat David Morris, Andrew Higginson, Ricky Walden and Mark Williams before producing an assured display to beat Ronnie O'Sullivan 5–1 in the final, to confirm his position as the eighth world number 1 in snooker. Robertson was invited to the Premier League Snooker, where he reached the semi-final. He lost 1–5 against O'Sullivan. Robertson reached the quarter-final of the UK Championship, where he lost 7–9 against Shaun Murphy.
Robertson reached the quarter-final of the Masters, but lost 4–6 against Mark Allen. Robertson lost in the first round of the German Masters 4–5. At the next two ranking tournaments Robertson lost in the second round, 1–4 against Graeme Dott at the Welsh Open and 1–5 against Peter Ebdon at the China Open. Robertson couldn't defend his World Snooker Championship trophy, as he lost 8–10 in the first round against eventual finalist Judd Trump.
Robertson's season started in a disappointing fashion as he lost 4–5 to Dominic Dale in the last 16 of his home tournament – the Australian Goldfields Open. However, his form soon improved and at the next world ranking event, the Shanghai Masters, he dismissed Liang Wenbo, Michael Holt and John Higgins, before losing 5–6 to Mark Williams in a tightly contested semi-final. His first silverware of the season came in Warsaw at the PTC Event 6, where he beat Ricky Walden 4–1 in the final. This success was quickly followed up by another PTC title in Event 8 where he again won by a 4–1 scoreline, this time against Judd Trump. Victory ensured that Robertson maintained his record of never having lost in a ranking event final. He would later finish third in the Order of Merit and therefore qualify for the 2012 PTC Finals. His fine form continued into the UK Championship in York, where he beat Tom Ford, Graeme Dott and Ding Junhui en route to his first semi-final in the event. He played Judd Trump and lost in an extremely tight encounter, 7–9, with there never being more than 2 frames between the players throughout the match.
Robertson won the 2012 Masters by defeating Shaun Murphy 10–6 in the final. He beat Mark Allen and Mark Williams in the opening two rounds, before facing Trump in the semi-finals for the second successive major tournament. He exacted revenge for his defeat in York a month earlier by winning 6–3 and said after the match that he had been spurred on by fans cheering when Trump fluked shots. Such was Robertson's feeling that he lacked support from the local crowd, he offered to buy a pint of beer for anyone attending his matches in an Australian hat or shirt, but only one person heeded this call in his semi final match against Mark Williams. In his first Masters final he opened up a 5–3 lead over Murphy in the first session and, although he lost the first frame upon the resumption of play, won four frames in a row to stand on the edge of the title. Despite a brief fightback from the Englishman, Robertson secured the frame he needed with a break of 70 to become the fourth man from outside the United Kingdom to win the event.
Robertson did not advance beyond the second round in any of his next three ranking events and then saw his run of televised finals without defeat finally come to an end when he was beaten 4–0 by Stephen Lee in the PTC Finals. He lost in the quarter-finals of the China Open 3–5 to Peter Ebdon, before drawing 1997 champion Ken Doherty in the first round of the World Championship. Robertson won the match 10–4 and then beat qualifier David Gilbert 13–9 to set up a quarter-final clash with Ronnie O'Sullivan. Robertson was 5–3 ahead after the first session, but his opponent produced a match defining run of six frames in a row and went on to win 13–10. Robertson finished the season ranked world number 7.
Robertson began the season poorly once more as he lost in the first round of the Wuxi Classic and the second round of the Australian Goldfields Open and the Shanghai Masters. He returned to form at the minor-ranking Gdynia Open in Poland by defeating Jamie Burnett 4–3 in the final. At the inaugural International Championship in Chengdu, China, Robertson saw off Ryan Day, Matthew Stevens, L? Haotian and Shaun Murphy 9–5 in the semi-finals to reach the final. There he led Judd Trump 8–6 but lost four consecutive frames to succumb to an 8–10 defeat. He enjoyed a comfortable passage into the quarter-finals of the UK Championship with 6–1 and 6–2 wins over Tom Ford and Barry Hawkins respectively to face Mark Selby. Robertson squandered a 4–0 lead to lose 4–6 in a match which finished after midnight.
Robertson started 2013 by attempting to defend his Masters title. He produced a comeback in the first round against Ding Junhui by taking the final three frames in a 6–5 triumph, shouting "You beauty!" when he potted the clinching red. Another deciding frame followed in the next round against Mark Allen, with Robertson making a 105 break in it to progress to the semi-finals and a more comfortable 6–2 win against Shaun Murphy. Robertson won three frames from 3–8 down to Mark Selby in the final, before Selby held off the fightback by taking the two frames he required to win 10–6. Robertson was beaten in the semi-finals of both the German Masters (2–6 to Ali Carter) and the World Open (5–6 to Matthew Stevens). Robertson's victory in the Gdynia Open earlier in the season helped him finish fifth on the PTC Order of Merit to qualify for the Finals. Wins over Jamie Burnett, Barry Hawkins, Xiao Guodong and Tom Ford saw him reach the final. He faced Ding and from 3–0 ahead went on to lose 3–4 meaning Robertson who won his first six ranking finals had now lost his last three.
Robertson returned to winning ways at the China Open by winning his seventh career ranking event. He advanced to final by defeating Jimmy Robertson 5–0, Mark Allen 5–1, Marcus Campbell 5–2 and Stephen Maguire 6–5 (after fighting back from 2–4 down). He exacted revenge over Mark Selby for his 10–6 loss in the final of the Masters in January by beating the Englishman by the same scoreline, moving to world number two in the process. Despite therefore appearing to be in top form for the World Championship he lost to Robert Milkins 8–10 in the first round, saying afterwards that he should have gone out to win the match rather than getting too involved in safety. Robertson finished the season ranked world number two for the second time in his career.
In May 2013, Robertson made the second official maximum break of his career in the Wuxi Classic qualifiers against Mohamed Khairy. In the main stage of the tournament, he defeated John Higgins 10–7 in the final to secure his eighth ranking event title. He came from 2–5 down against Higgins to lead 8–5 before withstanding a fightback to complete the victory and ensure his second consecutive ranking event win in China. In his home tournament, the Australian Goldfields Open, he made it past the second round for the first time in the three stagings of the event, before continuing his run by beating Joe Perry 5–2 in the quarter-finals and Mark Selby 6–3 in the semis. He would have become the first man since Ronnie O'Sullivan in 2003 to win back to back ranking events in the same season, but he lost 6–9 to Hong Kong's Marco Fu in the final. On 8 December 2013 Robertson beat Mark Selby 10–7 in the final of the UK Championship, becoming the first overseas player to win all Triple Crown events.
In January 2014, during the Championship League, Robertson reached 63 century breaks in a single professional season, breaking the previous record of 61 centuries held by Judd Trump. By early February, Robertson had reached 78 centuries, a feat that Ronnie O'Sullivan called "probably the most phenomenal scoring in the history of the game." In February, he made his 88th century of the season while playing Mark Williams in the last 32 of the Welsh Open, but went on to lose 4–3. At the World Open, he extended his season total to 92 centuries, but lost 4–3 on a re-spotted black against Marco Fu in the last 32. At the China Open he won a trio of deciding frames before beating Graeme Dott and Ali Carter to reach the final, where he lost 10–5 to Ding Junhui. He added one more century break during the event and extended the total to 99 in his first two World Championship matches. Robertson also missed a black on a break of 94 that would have seen him reach the 100 milestone during his win over Mark Allen. However, in the 22nd frame of his quarter-final clash against Judd Trump, Robertson made his 100th century break of the season, which also levelled the scores at 11–11. Robertson went on to win the match 13–11 (having trailed 6–2 and 11–8) to set up a semi-final against Mark Selby. Selby, the eventual champion, defeated Robertson 17–15 in a high-quality match that saw Robertson make three more century breaks to end his tally for the season at 103. He ended the campaign as the world number three.
Robertson beat Shaun Murphy on the final black in the quarter-finals of the 2014 Wuxi Classic to win 5–4 and then beat Barry Hawkins 6–3 to reach the opening ranking event final of the 2014/2015 season. He played friend and practice partner Joe Perry and from 3–0 behind rallied to lead 8–6, before Perry won three frames in a row to be one away from the title. Robertson then produced breaks of 87 and 78 to win the title 10–9 and paid tribute to Perry's influence on his own career after the match. A week later he comfortably won through to the final of his home event, the Australian Goldfields Open, without any of his opponents taking more than two frames off him. Robertson was beaten in the final of the event for the second year in a row, this time 9–5 against Judd Trump, but reclaimed the world number one spot afterwards. He then had early exits at the Shanghai Masters and International Championship and was knocked out at the semi-final stage of the Champion of Champions 6–4 by Trump.
Robertson trailed Graeme Dott 5–0 in the fourth round of the UK Championship, but then made five breaks above 50 which included two centuries to draw level, before falling short of a big comeback as Dott took the final frame to win 6–5. He produced his best snooker to reach the final of the Masters by defeating Ali Carter 6–1 in the quarter-finals and Ronnie O'Sullivan 6–1 in the semis. The latter victory marked the first time O'Sullivan had been eliminated at that stage of the event after 10 prior wins and also ended a run of 15 consecutive wins in all competitions. However, in the final Robertson suffered the heaviest defeat in the Masters since 1988 as Shaun Murphy thrashed him 10–2. He didn't lose a frame in reaching the quarter-finals of the German Masters, but Stephen Maguire got the two snookers he required in the deciding frame when Robertson accidentally potted the black and went on to clear the table to win 5–4. Robertson was forced to concede the fifth frame of his fourth round match with Gary Wilson at the Welsh Open when he failed to hit a red three times in a row and lost the next frame to exit the tournament. Robertson won his only European Tour event this year at the Gdynia Open by beating Mark Williams 4–0, meaning he has now claimed three titles in Poland during his career.
Robertson enjoyed comfortable 10–2 and 13–5 wins over Jamie Jones and Ali Carter to face Barry Hawkins in the quarter-finals of the World Championship. It was an extremely high quality encounter as both players compiled four centuries to match a Crucible record in a best of 25 frame match, but Robertson would lose 13–12. He made 11 centuries in the event which included a 143 in the first round, a 145 in the second and 141 and 142 breaks in the final session of his match with Hawkins. Despite this Robertson, who has won four ranking titles since his world title in 2010, stated that he believes he has underachieved in his career.
Robertson exited in round one of the first two ranking events in the 2015/2016 season and 6–4 to Mark Selby in the quarter-finals of the International Championship. He then claimed his first major title in over 12 months by beating Mark Allen 10–5 in the final of the Champion of Champions. Thepchaiya Un-Nooh missed the final black for a 147 in their third round UK Championship match, before Robertson made a 145 break in the next frame and went on to win 6–2. He saw off Stephen Maguire 6–1 and John Higgins 6–5 and then thrashed Mark Selby 6–0. Robertson became the first player to make a 147 break in a Triple Crown final in the sixth frame of his match with Liang Wenbo. It was also the first final in the event not to feature a player from the United Kingdom and Robertson would capture the title for the second time in three years with a 10–5 win. Robertson and Judd Trump set a record of six centuries in a best-of-11 frame match (four from Trump and two from Robertson) in the second round of the Masters with Trump progressing 6–5. Robertson proclaimed the match as the greatest ever at the Masters. Robertson was on the receiving end of a 147 break during his quarter-final match with Ding Junhui in the Welsh Open but the Australian prevailed 5–2. He then overcame Mark Allen 6–4 in the semi-finals to set up a final with Ronnie O'Sullivan. Despite leading 5–2, Roberston lost 9–5 as O'Sullivan produced a remarkable comeback by winning 7 frames in a row.
Robertson was born in Melbourne. During the snooker season, he is based in Cambridge, England. He has practised at Willie Thorne's snooker club in Leicester, and the Cambridge Snooker Centre.
Robertson has a son, Alexander. His Norwegian girlfriend, Mille, had been due to give birth while Robertson was playing in the World Championship final, but the child was not born until eight days later on 12 May 2010.
He doesn't refer to himself as a vegan, but only eats vegan food. He is conscious that some of his clothes, including his snooker shoes, are not made up of completely vegan materials.
Robertson is friends with Chelsea F.C. captain John Terry.
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