Hard work starts to pay off for Neil Robertson at Dafabet Masters

PUBLISHED: 14:26 18 January 2017 | UPDATED: 14:26 18 January 2017

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Ronnie O’Sullivan awaits at Alexandra Palace

Extra practice over the Christmas and New Year period appears to have paid off for Neil Robertson as he saw off Ali Carter 6-3 in his opening match at the Dafabet Masters.

The Cambridge-based Australian admitted he felt in good form on the practice tables as he looked to bounce back from a first-round exit at the UK Championships.

On Tuesday night, Robertson struck 85 to take an early lead before breaks of 78, 49 and a clearance of 69 saw him take control of the match at 4-1.

Carter fought back to take the next two frames with breaks of 73 and 93 but Robertson responded well with a 73 to put him a frame away from the quarter-finals.

And the 2012 Masters champion clinched his first-round victory with a 117 and set up a quarter-final clash with Ronnie O’Sullivan on Thursday afternoon.

“I was really happy with the hard work I’ve done over Christmas and to put in a performance like that was really satisfying,” the 34-year-old said.

“Usually I have a break over Christmas, after the UK’s take three weeks off, but I kept practicing, I practiced in Norway and then entered some groups at the Champions League heading into this and made a lot of big breaks there. I had 12 or 13 centuries in the week so I scored heavily there.

“I knew my game was in really good shape, practice wise long potting has never been better, scoring has never been better so it’s just a matter of being patient and eventually the performance will come.”

Robertson is a three-time finalist at the Masters with his only victory coming in 2012 when he beat Shaun Murphy 10-6 in the first tournament held at Alexandra Palace.

And the 2010 world champion, who suffered a first round exit at this year’s UK Championships, admitted he enjoyed the challenge of taking on a top player like Carter.

“I enjoy playing him full stop, he’s a wonderful player. I enjoy playing somebody like that, he scores heavy when he’s in and he plays the game properly,” Robertson said.

“I am almost better against top players than what I am against middle to low ranked players, players who make it scrappy and the balls are a mess.

“But playing out there tonight I was really put under pressure at 4-3 and to finish it off the last two frames the way I did was very pleasing.”

*Watch the London Masters Live on Eurosport 2, featuring daily studio analysis from Ronnie O’Sullivan, Jimmy White and Neal Foulds

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