Masters snooker: Neil Robertson captures first title
Neil Robertson won the Masters for the first time with a 10-6 win over Shaun Murphy at Alexandra Palace in London.
After a tense start the players traded century breaks before Robertson took the last two frames of the session with breaks of 72 and 60 for a 5-3 lead.
Murphy won the first frame after the resumption but Robertson responded with a 101 and was 8-4 up at the mini-break.
A 70 helped the Australian seal victory and maintained his record of winning all seven of his major finals.
"A good start was really important," said Robertson, only the fourth overseas player to win the coveted Masters crown.
"Shaun probably dominated the early stages of the first session but had a pretty bad run of the ball so I was quite lucky to be in there at 3-3.
"After that I think I played really good match snooker, scored heavily when I was in and you have to do that against Shaun. After the World Championship this is the tournament I really wanted to win. My path to the final hasn't been easy but I've stuck at it and played some really good stuff."
Murphy paid his opponent a major compliment by comparing him favourably to four-time world champion John Higgins.
"His all-round game has become one of the best, if not the best, in the game," said Murphy.
"His scoring ability, mixed with his tactical prowess... he's overtaken Higgins now."
Either could have gone ahead, but a poor safety shot from Murphy meant Robertson was able to pinch the opening frame on the black.
Murphy, seeking to become only the eighth player to win the coveted treble of World Championship, UK Championship and Masters, was level soon after though, courtesy of a solid 65 after Robertson had missed a long red.
A terrific break of 102, his seventh century of the tournament, gave Murphy the lead in the best-of-19 match for the first time.
Robertson hit back with a calm and composed century break of his own, a 103 clearance.
With the score at 3-3 Robertson edged ahead once more with an excellent break of 72, despite the black being out of commission, and the left-hander secured a two-frame cushion after Murphy missed a long red to end a break of 46.
Robertson responded with a 60 and though he missed a blue off its spot, Murphy failed to capitalise.
To the delight of the enthusiastic crowd Murphy took the first frame of the evening session but Robertson swiftly halted his progress with another century and four successive frames, including consecutive breaks of 76.
That left the Englishman needing each of the remaining six frames in the match to snatch an improbable victory.
Upping the pace in a defiant rearguard, breaks of 33 and 52 gave Murphy the first of them, and he potted a fabulous long diagonal blue in an 86 to reduce the deficit to 9-6.
But Robertson was soon back amongst the balls, his only concern in frame 16 a loose red that rolled out of the pack following an explosive screw shot off the black, but stopped on the jaws of the centre pocket.
The 29-year-old missed a red with the rest when 70 ahead with 67 on the table but soon wrapped up victory, treating the excitable audience to some exhibition style shots in the process.