Neil Robertson makes Masters exit to Yan Bingtao
By Tom Harle
Neil Robertson refused to blame a Christmas trip to Norway for being rumbled by Yan Bingtao in the first round of the Masters.
The 2012 champion caved in to the 20-year-old Chinese after leading 3-1 and 5-3, falling at the first hurdle in the Triple Crown event for the second successive year.
Robertson, who took Norwegian wife Mille and his children to celebrate Christmas in her homeland, harboured no regrets after the 6-5 loss in Milton Keynes.
“I didn’t play great and I think that’s to be expected with a few weeks off,” said the Cambridge-based potter.
“I didn’t have the opportunity to play over Christmas having gone to Norway. I was fully prepared to not play well and come in undercooked, and I’m fine with that.
“If I’d just got through the first round, I could have got a couple of days of practice and got myself sharp.
“But win or lose, I was comfortable with that decision and I knew the consequences.
“Mille’s had to look after both kids when I’ve been away, when kids haven’t been in school. She needed the rest more than me over Christmas.
“Christmas in Norway is really important for the kids. You have to live your life and I don’t regret going out there at all.”
The 38-year-old started superbly in his third meeting with Yan, nine years younger than any other player in the Masters draw.
Robertson, who trains at WT’s Sports Bar in Cambridge, made two 80 breaks and a century in the first four frames.
His slide began with a sloppy miss on the black in the fifth frame that the youngster profited from to
pull two frames back and draw level at 3-3.
Robertson was the architect of his own downfall and missed a decisive red on the rest at 5-4, with Yan showing his tactical prowess to win the final three frames to claim victory.
The 2012 world champion felt a lack of fans in the arena affected the quality of play and his own performance.
“I felt as though I lacked a bit of urgency and both of us struggled to make things happen,” said Robertson.
“Without a crowd, that can happen. Sometimes the crowd can help keep that momentum up.
“It requires a lot of concentration to keep the tempo up and play as if you’re in front of a packed crowd.
“It didn’t feel like the Masters, that’s one thing I can say.”
Watch the London Masters live on Eurosport and Eurosport app from January 10.