World Grand Prix Final: Neil Robertson vs Graeme Dott

Neil Robertson’s incredible form continued as he set up a World Grand Prix final against Graeme Dott at the Centaur in Cheltenham. The Australian edged Kyren Wilson in Saturday’s second semi-final with a 6-4 scoreline, a day after Dott had overcome Tom Ford by the same margin. Robertson has reached the final of all three ranking events in 2020 so far, winning the European Masters in January before losing out on glory in last week’s German Masters to Judd Trump. It’s an amazing streak and the 37 year-old has granted himself with another opportunity to land an 18th career title at this level. By contrast, it’s 13 years since his opponent in Sunday’s showdown last etched his name onto a ranking event trophy. Dott has appeared in three finals since landing the 2007 China Open but has lost them all. One of those, of course, was the 2010 World Championship title decider when Robertson was crowned the Crucible king at Dott’s expense. After a poor last campaign, the 2006 world champion has produced a renewed level of consistency during this term. Several appearances in the middle rounds of ranking events were substantiated by a run to the last four in Berlin a week ago. Dott has carried that improvement forward and his victory over Ronnie O’Sullivan in the quarter-finals underlined his intent. Already guaranteed £40,000 for reaching the World Grand Prix final, if Dott were to win he would reclaim a spot in the elite top 16. With the season gearing towards its conclusion in Sheffield, that could be vital for Dott’s ambitions to qualify automatically for this year’s World Championship. Robertson, though, will be a formidable challenge to overcome and the Melbourne man could have his eye on yet another bonus that’s on offer. The former world number one is already in prime position to collect a £150,000 jackpot for topping the European Series order of merit. An additional £100,000 payout will be given to the player who tops the Coral Series – three tournaments comprising this event as well as the Players and Tour Championships. Aside from their most high-profile meeting ten years ago, Robertson and Dott have encountered each other a lot over the years. Indeed, since Dott won their first clash 9-8 at the 2004 UK Championship, the pair has crossed paths an additional 15 times. Robertson boasts the superior head-to-head record with ten victories in total, including one in Austria a fortnight ago. While Dott will be fully expected to put up a determined fight, it’s hard to see past Robertson on current form. The only player who has been able to stop him so far this calendar year in a ranking event is the world number one. Robertson, who has risen to second in the rankings in recent weeks, is scoring heavily and has a steely determination to steamroller his opponents. In a race to ten, there is always scope for comebacks and meltdowns but, realistically, Dott will likely need a strong start to the World Grand Prix final in order to put himself into a position later on that could put Robertson under serious threat. At the Tempodrom last Sunday, Trump tied Robertson up with good safety and then scored heavily when in among the balls. That’s a template that Dott is more than capable of following but whether he can execute it remains to be seen. The last time he was in a final of this magnitude, in the 2018 German Masters, he was thumped 9-1 by Mark Williams. Robertson has the capability, as proven in Dornbirn when he humiliated Zhou Yuelong 9-0, to conjure that kind of unwavering dominance.
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