Paul Krishnamurty previews today's Masters final, where Neil Robertson is bidding for his second title ten years after the first, against Barry Hawkins...
Neil Robertson and Barry Hawkins will contest today's Masters final following an extraordinary pair of semi-final victories on a dramatic Saturday. It will be near-impossible to replicate that much excitement.
Both come in off thrilling comebacks
First, Robertson came back from the dead to defy Mark Williams. He trailed 4-1, 5-3 and needed two snookers in the deciding frame. Then Hawkins produced one of the best performances of his career to come from 5-4 down against Judd Trump. As all week, the atmosphere at Alexandra Palace sounded incredible.
This will be Robertson's fourth Masters final and first for seven years. He won in 2012 and is bidding for a sixth major title. Hawkins is bidding for his first, having lost both previous major finals to Ronnie O'Sullivan.
Aussie more experienced and proficient in finals
Indeed, the numbers firmly point to Robertson. He leads their head-to-head 10-4, and by 80-57 frames. His record in finals is also far superior, winning 31 out of 49. Barry has won nine of his 19 final appearances but none of the victories were at this major level. His biggest title to date was the 2017 World Grand Prix.
Despite all that though, it would be folly to write Hawkins off. He has barely put a foot wrong all week. Shaun Murphy and Mark Selby did make life relatively easy for him but the Trump match was high quality. The way he stepped up, potting great balls at critical moments, bodes well as he bids to shed his 'nearly man' tag.
However I am not about to abandon Robertson, who was one of my initial quartet of outright picks at odds of 6.611/2. He's improved with every match and finished yesterday in quite brilliant form, knocking in a series of rapid, near perfect breaks. I doubt he'll thrash Hawkins but am backing him to come through by either 10-7, 10-8 or 10-9.
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