Neil Robertson triumphed in one of snooker’s all-time most dramatic finals, beating Judd Trump 10-9 to win the Betway UK Championship for the third time.
A match which lasted over seven hours and finished close to 1am came down to the last few balls, with a Triple Crown title and £200,000 top prize on the line. At the end of a 66-minute deciding frame, Trump was two pots away from victory, but missed the pink to a top corner, leaving Robertson to perfectly execute a thin cut on the pink to the same corner.
Two of the sport’s all-time greats never had more than a frame between them throughout the day, and a fiercely contested battle became a test of stamina as much as skill in the concluding stages. When Australia’s Robertson eventually puts his cue away, he will surely reflect on this among his greatest moments.
Having lifted the trophy in 2013 and 2015, the 38-year-old becomes the fifth player to win the UK Championship on three or more occasions, joining Ronnie O’Sullivan (seven titles), Steve Davis (six), Stephen Hendry (five), John Higgins (three) and Ding Junhui (three). This is his first Triple Crown success in five years and his fifth overall having won the World Championship in 2010 and Masters in 2012.
Robertson now stands alongside Trump on 19 career ranking titles, winning his first silverware since the World Grand Prix in February. He avoided a third consecutive final defeat against Trump having finished second best at this year’s German Masters and English Open. He is up to second in the world rankings, albeit well behind runaway leader Trump.
Bristol’s 31-year-old Trump missed out on his second UK Championship crown and sees a four-week winning sequence covering 15 consecutive matches come to an end. Victory would have given him his third ranking title of the season and 20th overall, but instead he has to settle for the £80,000 runner-up prize.
The first frame of the evening session came down to a safety battle on the blue, Trump potting blue and pink to go ahead for the first time at 5-4. Robertson replied with a run of 94 then Trump regained the lead with 75. Frame 12 went Robertson’s way and he sealed the next with an excellent long pot on the last red.
The 14th frame was resolved on the colours, Trump controlling the safety battle before slotting in a long brown for 7-7. The Englishman took a scrappy 15th to edge ahead at 8-7, then Robertson hit back with a superb 115, his 13th century of the tournament which set a new record for the most tons in a single UK Championship.
In frame 17, Trump made runs of 53 and 42 to go 9-8 ahead. He had a match-winning chance in the 18th but missed a tricky red to a top corner on 48. Robertson executed difficult pots on his initial red and brown and went on the clear with 72.
In the decider, breaks of 23 and 24 gave Robertson the advantage, but the winning line remained elusive, and Trump clawed his way back to take it to the colours. After trapping his opponent in a snooker on the green, Trump took the green right-handed, stunned in the brown, and potted a difficult blue to a top corner. But, trailing 43-47, he over-cut the pink, leaving Robertson to steal the glory.
Robertson, overwhelmed with relief, said: “I would have been devastated to lose, I don’t know how I would have slept for the next few nights. Judd will be gutted but he was very gracious in defeat.
“Both of us must have had ten times in the last frame where we thought we were going to win. It was a titanic struggle, we both refused to lose. It wasn’t the greatest quality, but sometimes finals are so bad they are good. We were missing pots that club players would have potted and fluking snookers out of snookers. Maybe people will be in the club tomorrow trying to replicate those shots.
“In the last few frames I was just trying to stay positive. The brown I potted at 9-8 was the bravest shot I have ever played because if I’d missed it I would have lost. That was the best clearance of my career.
“At the end, Judd potted an unbelievable green with his right hand and I expected him to clear up. When I got the chance at the pink I could have played safe but if I had then lost it would have haunted me for years. So I had to go all-out to pot it. After that I couldn’t have played another shot, I was empty.
“To beat Judd, who is the best player in the world and has been so consistent in finals over the last few years, it’s up there with anything I have achieved before.”
Trump said: “It was an epic battle, it’s tough to take. I bottled it at the end, simple as that. I had an easy brown to screw back, I tried to stun it as I was under pressure, but I messed it up. The pressure got to me. Neil is an amazing player and thoroughly deserved the win. Hopefully I can learn from that.”