Neil Robertson reveals unique preparation in bid to lift second Crucible crown

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Neil Robertson reveals unique preparation in bid to lift second Crucible crown
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Neil Robertson has made a unique change in his quest to banish Crucible demons and claim a second world title, writes Ben Parsons.

Robertson, 40, fired four century breaks to breeze past debutant Ashley Hugill 10-5 in the first round at the iconic Sheffield theatre.

Red-hot Robertson is the tournament favourite after a stunning season which has seen him claim four ranking titles, including the prestigious Masters at the Alexandra Palace.

But his record at the Crucible is famously poor, with the Australian describing his recent runs at the sport’s blue-riband event as ‘terrible, awful and shocking.’

The Australian has made just one World Championship semi-final visit since his victory in 2010, despite remaining one of the elite players in the world.

A tall player, Robertson has previously attributed his lack of success down to the tight venue, where he is unable to conduct his traditional pre-shot routine.

And he revealed he has altered his practice this year to replicate a match setting at snooker's spiritual home.

“It’s only when I’ve allowed myself to get bogged down in matches where I’ve looked for problems,” Robertson said.

“The last couple of weeks I came up with an idea to restrict the sides around my practice table.

“I brought in bar stools and effectively made a barrier which is closer in to be able to naturally walk around the table.

“In that match there was only once where I knocked into the side, whereas in all my other matches, I've knocked into them half a dozen times at least.

“I’m much more accustomed to this space now as I’ve been able to prepare really well in practice, minimising how much I step back into the shot.

“It seems to have done the trick and I’m much more comfortable now.”

Robertson reeled off eight straight frames in a row to leave him one from victory against York’s Hugill.

Battling Hugill responded by reducing the deficit to 9-5 but Robertson sealed his second-round spot in style with a 109 break, his fourth century of the match.

He added: “I thought I played pretty well, especially after going 3-1 down.

“I stayed aggressive, made three big centuries yesterday and this morning was a professional job.

“Ashley can be proud of himself because he never crumbled out there but it was down to my good play.”

Robertson will take on Matthew Stevens or Jack Lisowski in a last 16 match starting on Saturday.

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