Robertson happy to overcome 'sticky patch'

Neil Robertson avoided a sticky end to his World Championship campaign but admitted knocking out Fergal O'Brien was as tough as extracting chewing gum from a carpet.

Neil Robertson avoided a sticky end to his World Championship campaign but admitted knocking out Fergal O'Brien was as tough as extracting chewing gum from a carpet.

The 28-year-old Australian made a maximum 147 break inside 15 minutes at the recent China Open, but a Crucible record for the slowest frame almost fell as he and O'Brien became entrenched in a tense battle for the crunch 13th frame in their Crucible opener.

Robertson finally took it after an hour and nine minutes - six minutes short of the record set by Stephen Maguire and Mark King last year - to gain an 8-5 lead.

That effectively finished off 38-year-old O'Brien, who was not flattered by the final scoreline of 10-5.

"I said to someone after the match that it felt like trying to get a piece of chewing gum out of a carpet," Robertson explained.

"It was a really, really tough match and I'm relieved to get through.

"That frame that went on for nearly an hour and 10 minutes was just absolutely unbelievable.

"I don't know how long we were on the yellow and green for, but it felt like the other table were going through all their frames and we were still on one ball."

Robertson reached the Crucible semi-finals last year and in October won the Grand Prix in Glasgow - his fourth ranking title.

"I think last year was a great stepping stone for me," Robertson said.

"If I could get down to the semi-final situation again I would be better equipped for it.

"Last year was a great run and by winning the Grand Prix I've kept that momentum going of doing well in the major tournaments.

"I definitely believe I can do really well this year."

Robertson meets Martin Gould next and could face defending champion John Higgins in the quarter-finals.

Like Robertson and Higgins, China's Ding Junhui is in the top half of the draw and safely through to round two.

Ding, 23, is still getting to grips with the English language but had no trouble expressing himself on the table as he thrashed Preston's Stuart Pettman 10-1.

There was no entrance music for the players, with Ding having requested a sober start as a mark of respect for the victims of the Chinese earthquake.

China today observed a day of mourning for those killed in last week's quake. Official figures put the number of dead above 2,000.

Ding said: "Lots of people died. I heard the bad news a few days ago and I asked for no music.

"It was in the north of China and very sad. I saw pictures on the internet."

Qualifier Pettman grumbled: "I was absolutely shocking throughout the whole game. It's so disappointing to get here and put in a performance like that."

Ding added: "I don't know what happened to him. He was leaving many balls and leaving me easy ones, I just played like practice."

While Robertson and Ding were among the pre-tournament favourites, Ryan Day's poor season meant few expected him to be a contender.

The world number six from Wales duly tumbled out in the first round, losing to 37-year-old Englishman Mark Davis - who has reached the second round only once previously, when he lost to Peter Ebdon in 1995.

He has qualified on four other occasions, only to lose in the first round each time - including a defeat to Terry Griffiths on his debut in 1994.

Davis is already a world snooker champion - of sorts - having landed the six-reds title in Killarney last December.

He will face Northern Ireland's Mark Allen in the second round.

Glaswegian Stephen Maguire opened up a 6-3 lead over Trowbridge's Stephen Lee, whose fifth-frame break of 127 moved him into a tie with Liang Wenbo for the £10,000 highest-break prize.

Scotland's Graeme Dott completed a 10-5 victory against England's Peter Ebdon in a repeat of the 2006 final.

Dott, now 32, beat Ebdon to the title four years ago and tonight outscrapped the same opponent to set up a meeting with Maguire or Lee.

The result means Ebdon, 39, drops out of the top 16 for the first time since 1994.

Shaun Murphy, who won the 2005 title as a qualifier, was well on the way to a second-round meeting with Ding.

The Englishman made breaks of 108, 90 and 88 as he opened up an 8-1 lead over Northern Ireland's Gerard Greene in a match which concludes tomorrow afternoon.

Ebdon had been 7-2 down to Dott after the first session and conceded: "I lost it then. Graeme played very well."

Both players condemned the table conditions, which they claimed were sub-standard and affected play, although neither suggested that factor had any impact on the outcome.

"Congratulations to Graeme. He's a brilliant match player and I don't think he was given the credit he deserved for winning the World Championship," Ebdon said.

"He's one of the toughest men to beat and somebody's going to have to play really well to beat him in this tournament."

Of losing his top-16 ranking, Ebdon said: "I'm bitterly disappointed but also very proud to have been in for so long."

Winner Dott is also out of the top 16 at present, but will jump back in if he reaches the semi-finals.

He said: "I need to win another couple of games, and I'm sure Peter has got the right attitude and he'll bounce back."

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