• The Masters

Robertson sets up semi with Murphy

ESPN staff
January 17, 2013
Neil Robertson played an inspired final frame to win 6-5 © PA Photos

Reigning champion Neil Robertson just about stayed on course for back-to-back Masters titles by beating Mark Allen 6-5 to set up a semi-final with Shaun Murphy.

Australian Robertson had to come from behind for the second time in the tournament following his first round victory over China's Ding Junhui, which he also won by a 6-5 scoreline.

In the deciding final frame Allen put in a fiendish snooker on Robertson, hiding the cue ball behind the yellow and leaving only one red as a potential option in the opposite corner of the table.

But the world No. 5 showed his class and not only potted the red but put himself onto the black. From there the 30-year-old was in control and did justice to last year's victory with some consummate snooker, yet earlier in the match it was Allen winning the plaudits.

Robertson built up an early 2-1 lead at Alexandra Palace but Allen showed his mastery by putting in a 138 clearance to win the fourth frame - and make him the front runner for the £8,000 high break prize.

But more importantly it levelled the match and after the interval his good form continued as a 73 break helped him take the lead. But Robertson then put in a 111 break to win the sixth frame and he followed it up by taking a scrappy seventh to lead again at 4-3.

Allen was not finished and after a 68 break, Robertson took the table needing at least one snooker to overhaul his opponent. But he made a hash of setting himself up for it on the last red and then, after a poor safety shot, conceded the frame with the scores at 68-30.

In a now familiar theme, Robertson roared back with a 101 break to comfortably set himself up one frame from victory. But he failed to finish the job off at the first attempt and the match went to a decider. From there it was all Robertson and he owed it all to his brilliant shot from behind the yellow at the start of the frame.

Shaun Murphy proved he does have the temperament for the big stage by coming back from 4-1 down, and then 5-4 down, to beat John Higgins 6-5.

World No. 3 Higgins made a fast start but saw it eaten away by the 30-year-old Murphy, who is nicknamed The Magician, as he discarded the cautious approach for an ultimately more successful attacking style.

But at 4-4 Higgins looked to have quelled the storm by capitalising on Murphy's error on a long blue when he was on 25. That gave the Scotsman a 5-4 lead but at 44-36 up in the tenth frame, and on the edge of victory, he missed a red trying to manoeuvre another off the cushion. Murphy duly tied matters up to force a decider.

After a 51 break from Higgins, Murphy finally got his chance and this time he nailed a long blue to set him on his way to a gutsy victory.

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