Robertson holds off Bingham in York thriller

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Neil Robertson clinched his place in the final of the williamhill.com UK Championship last night after a thrilling clash with Stuart Bingham.

The Australian potter was leading 8-3 and looked set for an early evening at the Barbican Centre in York.

But he did not count on a gritty fightback from Bingham who scrapped away with breaks of 85, 56, 86 and 107 to somehow claw his way back to 8-8.

The drama was not over though as the 17th and final frame was in the balance before Robertson finally knocked in the decisive red to crawl over the finish line.

Robertson had the better of the opening session of his semi-final to take a 5-3 lead.

Bingham, the conqueror of Ronnie O’Sullivan in the quarter-final, led twice and potted more balls and scored more points in the session.

But he would have been relieved to close the gap in the last frame before the interval, having trailed 5-2 following a surge from the world number one from Melbourne.

Bingham made the early running and could easily have led 3-1 at the mid-session interval.

A 72 break won him the opener and though Robertson responded with 70 in the next, Bingham restored his lead with an excellent 124 - a rare Ashes century by an Englishman this winter.

The turning point came, though, when after a break of 51 in frame four Bingham broke down and Robertson eventually took the frame with a good clearance of the colours.

The Australian made the best of an unpromising position in the first frame back, potting a good long black and judging his cannons well to compile a high-quality 86.

He took the next as well after Bingham could not develop a couple of half-chances, the Basildon potter never in position and managing only 14 and 11.

Robertson looked to have wrapped up frame seven after a 68 break left Bingham needing four snookers, but a free ball and some superb safety brought the world number 10 back into it.

Having done the hard work, though, he rattled a green in the jaws and Robertson staggered over the line.

That left Bingham desperately needing to win the last and he did so with a 78 break, for a scoreline which was probably a fair reflection of the opening exchanges.

World champion Ronnie O’Sullivan staged a U-turn yesterday after initially threatening to withdraw from next month’s Masters.

O’Sullivan earned an automatic qualifying place for the event with his Crucible triumph in May, but wrote on Twitter last night that he was “unsure” as to whether to appear at Alexandra Palace from January 12.

The 38-year-old’s post read: “thinking about enetering the masters at ally pally - what ya think - yes or no - so unsure”.

A reply from World Snooker’s official account simply read “yes”, and O’Sullivan wrote around an hour after his original post: “entered and done - let me entertain u ally pally”.

O’Sullivan lost to Stuart Bingham on Thursday in the quarter-finals of the UK Championship but remained in York and celebrated his birthday by going for dinner with seven-time World Champion Stephen Hendry.

Yesterday afternoon he wrote on Twitter of the need to get away and indulge his passion for running.

He wrote: “need to run and run and run and get out of snooker hallsand hotel rooms and breathe fresh air man - just need it bad”.

O’Sullivan has won five world and four UK titles in his 21-year professional career but has endured a fractious relationship with snooker in recent years.

The Rocket missed much of the 2012-13 season and expressed hope during the ongoing UK Championship that the switch from ranking points to a money list system would enable him to “play the system”, take further breaks and preserve his world ranking.

Snooker returns to the Barnsley Metrodome next week for the qualifying rounds of two world ranking events.

The Yorkshire venue hosted the International Championship qualifiers last month and the Metrodome has now been selected to stage the German Masters qualifiers on December 11 and 12, followed by the Haikou World Open qualifiers on December 13 and 14. Both tournaments will see 128 players each playing one match, with the 64 winners to go through to the respective venues in Germany and China next year.

Tickets, costing £5 per day, with three sessions on each day at 10am, 2.30pm and 7pm, are on sale now. fans can take advantage of a special offer by paying just £10 for any three days.

For details call 01226 738 618 or visit www.worldsnooker.com/tickets

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