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Page last updated at 16:15 GMT, Saturday, 10 October 2009 17:15 UK

Robertson and Ding set for final

GRAND PRIX
Venue: Kelvin Hall, Glasgow Date: Saturday 3 October-Sunday 11 October Coverage: BBC Two, BBC Red Button, BBC Sport website

Neil Robertson

Video - Higgins fluff hands Robertson win

Neil Robertson survived a fightback from John Higgins to earn a superb 6-5 victory in an intense match and reach the final of the Grand Prix in Glasgow.

Robertson recorded three century breaks as the Australian took a 5-3 lead but Scotsman Higgins roared back to level the match in front of his home crowd.

The semi-final came down to the final ball, and Robertson held his nerve as Higgins conceded on the black.

Robertson will face China's Ding Junhui who beat Welshman Mark Williams 6-1.

It will be the first ranking final between two non-British players for nearly a quarter of a century, since Silvino Francisco beat Kirk Stevens to win the 1985 British Open.

Both Ding and Robertson have won three previous titles, along with Thailand's James Wattana, so one of the two finalists will become the most successful ever player from outside Britain and Ireland.

I'm going to watch the video of that match a hundred times

Neil Robertson

Robertson's early break of 114 in a high-class opening semi-final set the tone of the opening frames, a venomous shot into the pack sending the 27-year-old on his way.

Higgins never let Robertson get too far ahead, however, and the defending champion hauled his way back to a 3-2 lead with a well-executed plant in a scrappier fifth frame.

Once again, a brave shot to split the remaining reds earned Robertson the sixth frame with a break of 130 and both players squandered opportunities to seize the initiative in the seventh.

Neil Robertson

Video - Robertson hits 130 against Higgins

Higgins looked to finally find the momentum as he crafted an excellent pot, squeezing a red inside the blue guarding the yellow pocket, and fell kindly on to the black.

But the Scotsman subsequently positioned the cue ball horribly, allowing Robertson to take his chance, and he pulled two frames clear with a break of 128 in the eighth - his 99th competitive century.

Higgins fought back after Robertson had posted a break of 49 in the ninth frame, producing a frame-winning clearance, then dominated the 10th after Robertson struggled to extricate himself from a snooker.

That took the tie to a deciding and attritional 11th frame, in which Robertson spent many a minute poring over a succession of challenging shots.

The pressure told as Robertson, forced into an unsuccessful attempt at a tricky red, left the path clear for Higgins.

However, Higgins then had trouble of his own, making a tough red but watching in horror as the pink also dropped.

606: DEBATE
Foxes-Ace

The pair traded snookers with only the colours remaining, Higgins seven points ahead of Robertson, before Higgins inadvertently potted the yellow, snookering himself in the process.

Robertson missed a chance to cut the green into the middle pocket and Higgins then over-hit a comparatively simple brown under intense pressure.

The frame came down to the black, Higgins conceding having left it over the pocket after an ultra-fine shot from distance.

Robertson stunned by thrilling win

"I can't remember winning a decider on the black for years and years," Robertson told BBC Sport.

"To play the way I did throughout the whole match, against the world champion - I'm going to watch the video of that match a hundred times."

A relieved Robertson nevertheless paid tribute to Higgins for the manner in which he rallied from 5-3 down.

"I don't think many people in the world are capable of that comeback," he added.

"John and Ronnie O'Sullivan are maybe the only two, although Mark Selby is also very good at coming back.

"But I wasn't really thinking about him doing that. I was just thinking I am going to get one chance and I am going to win the match, I was playing so well."

I was rubbish, full stop

Mark Williams

In the second semi, Ding survived an opening clearance break of 142 from Williams to stroll into the final.

He won the next six frames against the two-time world champion, including breaks of 103 and 85 in frames three and seven respectively.

"He made a great break in the first frame and I thought it would be very difficult," said Ding who, like Robertson, has won all three of his previous ranking finals, the last in 2006.

"I don't know why he missed so many balls after that. We both made mistakes, but he missed more than me. It doesn't matter if I play badly sometimes as long as I win frames. I feel happy that my form is coming back."

Williams was succinct in his assessing his own performance. "I was rubbish, full stop," he said.



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see also
Grand Prix schedule and results
04 Oct 09 |  Snooker
Ding puts Ebdon out of Grand Prix
09 Oct 09 |  Snooker
Williams halts Hendry challenge
08 Oct 09 |  Snooker
Higgins squeezes out O'Sullivan
07 Oct 09 |  Snooker


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