Robertson dominates opening session

Neil Robertson outplayed a weary Ali Carter in the first session of their marathon last-four showdown as he began his quest to give Australia their first ever Crucible finalist.

Neil Robertson outplayed a weary Ali Carter in the first session of their marathon last-four showdown as he began his quest to give Australia their first ever Crucible finalist.

The 28-year-old opened up a 6-2 lead over Essex cueman Carter in their Betfred.com World Championship semi-final, having had the benefit of an early-afternoon finish to his previous match.

By contrast Carter had a late night, taking out Shaun Murphy in a final-frame quarter-final decider, and then found it difficult to settle down and sleep.

He eventually nodded off at around 3.30am, and when he arrived in the theatre for his 2pm start against Robertson the 30-year-old's start was sluggish.

So sluggish in fact that he lost the opening five frames and from that position to finish as he did was a minor success.

Carter has dismissed his chances of winning the world title but that has been part of an exercise in self-kidology.

Working with sports psychologist Steven Sylvester, Carter has adopted the policy of flatly refusing to look beyond his next match.

"I've no hope of winning. It's wanting to win that sometimes makes you lose," he said.

"I've lost myself too many tournaments before through wanting it too badly. It stops you getting it which is a funny thing, and it's only when you get a bit older that you realise you have to let things come at their own pace.

"When I'm lifting the trophy, that's when I'll think I can win it."

Robertson went 4-0 ahead after breaks of 124 and 91 and winning the third frame from a position where he required a snooker.

He actually pinned Carter in three snookers and was rewarded with fouls each time.

That lead was extended by a break of 76 in the fifth frame, but Carter eventually stepped up his performance.

He edged a tight frame before Robertson dominated the next.

Carter, runner-up in 2008, then had a fluke at the start of the eighth frame and went on a break of 38 before making a swift return and firing in 69 to trim Robertson's lead again.

Eddie Charlton was Australia's last World Championship finalist, in 1975, when the tournament was actually staged in Robertson's home city, Melbourne.

Graeme Dott and Mark Selby were tonight beginning their semi-final contest.

Heading into the match, Dott revealed how close he came to quitting snooker.

The 32-year-old Glaswegian's father-in-law and former manager Alex Lambie died in 2006 after a battle with cancer.

Dott's wife Elaine also suffered a miscarriage and had a cancer scare.

The turmoil in his private life led to Dott being diagnosed with depression, and his snooker career suffered.

By drifting to 48th in the provisional world rankings in late 2008, he was moving close to disappearing into oblivion, barely two years after winning the world title.

Retirement became a consideration, until Dott realised he had nothing to fall back on.

He explained: "Probably even this year I've spoken to my wife about it a few times, but I've nothing else that I can do.

"I don't know any other way I'd earn any money so I basically had to play.

"But my wife at one point was all for me giving up because I was so bad.

"It's a credit to her that she's still with me because of what she must have been through, but it was obviously as low as you could get.

"People who've had depression know how bad it can be so it was as bad as you could get."

Dott gave snooker scant attention during his most troubled months, and barely cared about his results.

He said: "I was going to a tournament and as soon as somebody won a first frame I was giving up. I had no interest in playing snooker."

Dott has performed heroically in Sheffield this year, knocking out Peter Ebdon, Stephen Maguire and Mark Allen to set up his tussle with Selby and clinch a top-16 ranking for next season.

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