by Callum Ellis
NEIL Roberston completed a remarkable 5-4 turnaround against Kurt Maflin to secure a place in the 2019 Welsh Open semi-finals.
An enthralling nine-frame thriller at the Motorpoint Arena staged two career centuries as Robertson came from behind.
Robertson headed into the tie as the favourite after sweeping the Norwegian aside with a 5-1 victory when the pair last met in Berlin earlier this year.
With the odds stacked against him, the 49th-ranked Maflin opened the first frame with a break of 29.
Robertson replied to enter the lead with a 41 break after potting the black on three successive occasions before missing a red.
However, Maflin took advantage of his counterpart’s error with a firm break of 63, clearing the table to take a 1-0 lead.
Maflin continued his positive start into the second frame and stepped up with a break of 104 to seal a 159th career century.
Heading into the third, a 74 break saw the 35-year-old increase his advantage to 3-0. Robertson needed a response and did just that as he came within touching distance of another career century, sinking a 91 break.
Despite falling in the final frame before the break, Maflin was firmly in the driving seat and took a 3-1 lead into the mid-session interval.
‘The Thunder from Down Under’ was down but certainly not out as a strong restart saw him reduce the deficit by taking the fifth frame.
Robertson continued to threaten but Maflin held his nerve to clinch the sixth, in what turned out to be his final winning frame of the competition.
Trailing by two frames and in real danger of exiting at the quarter-final stages, Robertson looked to be in trouble.
But the former Welsh Open champion fought back to take the remaining three frames with breaks of 69, 136 and 67.
Robertson will now take on Hossein Vafaei in the semi-final on Saturday evening.
(Featured image: DerHexer)