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Ronnie O’Sullivan urges Neil Robertson to be confident in ‘best technique’ ahead of the Masters




By Will Jennings

Neil Robertson needs to come out of his shell and trust his ‘best ever’ technique if he is to make the most of his final four years among the snooker elite, says six-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan.

Cambridge-based Robertson claimed a thrilling third UK Championship crown in December after toppling world No 1 Judd Trump in an unforgettable final.

The 2010 world champion triumphed 10-9 in the early hours of Monday morning after a nip and tuck, marathon encounter was sealed on the final pink.

Fluent left-hander Robertson, 38, will take on Yan Bingtao in the Masters on Tuesday and O’Sullivan, a 37-time ranking event winner, believes the Australian’s technique means he should throw more caution to the wind.

The 45-year-old said: “You’d have to say Neil’s got the best technique of anybody that’s ever played the game.

“I’d definitely say that, and that’s the cornerstone of his game. That technique is so good that there’s nothing that can really go wrong with it.

“He’s always going to be in with a chance, and it’s more of a confidence thing with Neil. Does he play with confidence? Does he sometimes go a bit in his shell?

“Neil’s probably six years ahead of Judd in age, so Judd’s always going to have that advantage of having 10 good years, where Neil has probably only got about four.

“I think Neil’s playing a phenomenal level of snooker and he’s going to win a lot when you’ve got a cue action like that and you hit the ball that well.

“With a cue action like that, I would be pushing the boat out a lot because you can make a lot happen with that.”

Robertson will face Chinese sensation Yan as he kicks off his pursuit of a second Masters title.

The tournament was due to be held in front of fans at Alexandra Palace but a surge in coronavirus cases means it will now be played behind closed doors in a Covid-secure set-up at the Marshall Arena.

Robertson soared to Masters glory back in 2012 while O’Sullivan, the current world No.3, is a record seven-time tournament winner in what marks the second Triple Crown event of the snooker season.

The Rocket has beaten the Australian on 18 of the 28 occasions they’ve met but is yet to taste silverware during the 2020-21 season.

Robertson, meanwhile, reached the English Open and Champion of Champions finals in addition to claiming that memorable UK Championship crown.

Trump has racked up three titles this term while Mark Selby already has two and O’Sullivan, who has largely watched from the fringes, reckons it is the Trump, Robertson and Selby trio who will continue to win the bulk of snooker’s titles.

“[Neil] has to win tournaments – Judd can’t win everything, and I think probably between [Mark] Selby, Judd and Neil they’ll win 70 per cent of the tournaments a year,” added O’Sullivan, who will play three-time UK champion Ding Junhui on Wednesday.

“Then other players will nick stuff in between. I think those three are probably head and shoulders above everybody else, at the moment.”

Watch the London Masters live on Eurosport and Eurosport app from January 10



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