by Callum Ellis
THE 2019 Welsh Open champion Neil Robertson says he relishes the opportunity of playing in the capital after lifting the title for the second time.
A 16-frame final at the Motorpoint Arena saw Robertson fend off a spirited comeback from Stuart Bingham to pocket the £70,000 prize fund on Sunday evening.
Bingham won four successive frames in the second session to draw level at 7-7 but the Australian held his nerve to win the final two frames, clinching the Ray Reardon Trophy with a 9-7 victory.
“It’s one of my favourite tournaments because Cardiff is an amazing city,” said Robertson.
“The venue is perfect for playing snooker. World Snooker have absolutely nailed it like they have done with most of the home nation events.
“It’s a lot different to Newport as there wasn’t a great deal do in between matches.”
Robertson last tasted success at the tournament 12 years ago after defeating Andrew Higginson in another closely-fought final.
And the Australian admitted he felt the pressure to replicate that victory against Bingham.
“[It’s] an amazing feeling because Stuart’s safety throughout the whole match was unbelievable. I didn’t play at the tempo I wanted to play at – and a lot of that is down to Stuart’s safety play. I threw that huge frame away to go 8-4 up, and if I had lost from there, I would have had a lot of sleepless nights that’s for sure.
“At 7-7 when he had the snookers, I was thinking ‘just don’t throw this away’. Funnily enough, when he broke off, that was the first long red he had left me throughout the whole match.
“I wasn’t at my best. I didn’t do a lot wrong but I just hung in there. From 7-3 to 7-7, I had to dig in really deep.”
A 15th ranking tile for Robertson sees him level with world number one Mark Selby, which he believes will stand him in good stead ahead of the World Championships in April.
“It’s an amazing achievement; two in the same season is always really nice as well. It’s the first time I’ve won a ranking event in the second half of the season for a very long time. I can’t remember the last time I did that.
“I’ve always started off seasons well but in the second half I’ve not performed that well. It may be complacency or something, I don’t know.
“We’ve still got a lot of the season to play for, so moving forward, it’s a huge confidence boost going into the World Championships.”