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

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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