Neil Robertson has revealed a little mind game he has played on the snooker table in the past, most notably in the World Championship semi-final on his way to lifting the title in 2010.
The Thunder from Down Under is one of the finest players to ever pick up a cue, winning that world title 12 years ago, which was one of 23 ranking titles he has claimed, along with two Masters crowns.
However, it is not just his fabled cue action, solid mentality and dedication to the sport that has made him one of the greats, he has learned the odd trick to get under his opponent’s skin.
The Australian was remembering his Crucible triumph from 2010 and his semi-final meeting with Ali Carter which he would go on to win 17-12.
It was a comfortable win in the end for Robertson but things were much closer earlier in the contest, until the Aussie made the most of a stroke of luck when on a break.
He explains how a little bit of acting didn’t necessarily help him win the frame in question, but improved his odds in the frames to come as Carter’s ‘head exploded’ as a result.
‘I remember playing a shot and it was a little bit of a turning point,’ Robertson told the Talking Snooker podcast.
‘I played a terrible positional shot and was in no man’s land but there was the tiniest gap to get through to play the black that was over the hole.
‘I pretended that I wasn’t on it. Walking around the table like, “Ah I’m on nothing here, I guess I’ve got to play safe.” But I always knew that I could get through to the path to the black.
‘Then I walked round the table and stopped as if, “Oh, what have I discovered here? Is there a little gap between these reds? Oh, there is!”
‘So I got down, played the black, potted it and cleared up. Ali’s head exploded, he absolutely lost the plot for the rest of the session and I won the next two or three frames and had a good lead.’
Asked whether the performance was entirely to wind up Carter, Robertson explained: ‘Yeah. Ali back then could get really angry and I knew it would wind him up and I took full advantage of that.’
Robertson would go on to beat Graeme Dott 18-13 in the final and become a world champion, proving along the way that snooker is not just about potting balls, but a battle in the mind as well.
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