Robertson Eyeing Crucible Glory After Best Season of His Career So Far

It would be wrong to suggest that life began at 40 for Neil Robertson, but the Australian has certainly enjoyed a remarkable renaissance after reaching the milestone age.

The potting machine has now won three ranking titles and The Masters during the 2021/22 snooker season – making it the most prolific campaign of his career to date.

And so impressive has his return to form been that Robertson has now been installed as the 7/2 favourite in the snooker betting for the World Championships, which get underway on April 16 and run through to the final on May 2.

The World snooker betting market generally reflects the form-lines of the various players heading into the showpiece occasion – that explains why Robertson, Ronnie O’Sullivan, and John Higgins have been shortened in price by the bookmakers while Judd Trump, who has had a miserable season by his own impeccable standards, has been eased out to 9/2.

The Tour Championship, which provided Robertson with the most recent of his quartet of trophies, is considered a fantastic guide for the Worlds – hence why the Aussie has been listed as the market principle. His 10-9 victory over O’Sullivan in the semi-finals there was a spectacle for the ages, and confirmation that both veterans head to the Crucible in fine spirits.

However, some sympathy must go to Higgins, who threw away a 9-4 lead against Robertson in the final to lose 9-10. Happily for supporters of the Scot, he retained his perspective despite the disappointment. “It’s a tough one to take, but there are worse things happening in the world,” he said with refreshing honesty.

If nothing else, the four-time world champion heads to Sheffield knowing his game is in the right place to challenge for a fifth title – and one that would make him the oldest world champion in snooker history.

But Higgins, like everyone else on the circuit, is trailing in Robertson’s wake right now…

No Room for Manoeuvre

For a player with a two-decade-long career of excellence, it’s almost bizarre to think that Robertson only has the one world title to his name.

The reasons for that are unclear, although the Aussie himself believes that the unique conditions at the Crucible Theatre play a part. Already a cramped environment as it is, for the early parts of the tournament the two tables are separated by a screen – adding an even greater sense of claustrophobia to proceedings.

Robertson has intimated in the past that the Crucible isn’t his favourite environment for that very reason, and after his defeat in 2021 to Kyren Wilson completely did away with any reserved judgement. “I don’t like the venue,” he said, in a matter-of-fact fashion. “From a technical point of view, it’s very difficult for me to walk into my shot properly, it’s actually almost impossible to do.”

When the World Championship reaches its semi-final stage, the venue is reduced to one table – giving the players much more room to breathe. But it’s telling that Robertson has only reached the last four in three of his seventeen attempts at the event, and only once since 2010.

Could Robertson’s Crucible jinx yet come back to haunt him once more?

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