Crowd-pleaser Neil Robertson says there’s no point being a snooker player if you don’t want to entertain, writes Will Jennings.
The Cambridge-based world No.3 breezed into the second round of the World Championship with a fluent 10-3 victory over China’s Liang Wenbo on Sunday.
The red-hot left-hander cracked in three century breaks and five visits of fifty-plus to blow away the world No.29 on the Crucible baize.
Robertson lost to three-time world champion Mark Selby in a turgid quarter-final last year and says with fans now returning to Sheffield, players have a duty to please.
The 2010 Crucible king, 39, said: “It’s such an important part of the game and you don’t see people win tournaments these days who can’t score really well.
“Everyone’s got their own style and the way they play the game, and a lot is dependent on your natural ability.
“Not everyone can pot the same balls like me and Judd [Trump] do and make the breaks that we do.
“But I think it’s really important. It is hard, especially for the middle to lower-ranked guys when they are fighting for a living to think ‘snooker is an entertainment sport on TV and there are people in the crowds.’
“I felt it as a player myself – last year when I played Mark in the quarters I could sense the crowd being like: ‘that’s not what we paid our money for, and we didn’t come to watch that.’
“People don’t turn the TV on to watch myself and Selby play frames that go on for an hour.
“Maybe if it’s 12 o’clock at night and you’re looking to watch something to drift off to sleep, then maybe that might be the case.
“It is important to play the right way – not everyone can play expansive stuff and score really heavily but for me, I was a bit fed up after the way I bowed out last year and just never wanted to be involved in those types of matches again.”
The Thunder from Down Under was at his mesmerising best against Liang as breaks of 108, 79, 71, 60 and 59 opened up a commanding advantage at the interval.
And further visits of 110 and 100 on Sunday helped haul him into the last 16 and keep his hopes of a second Crucible crown – and first for over a decade – alive.
Robertson, a 20-time ranking event winner, won the Tour Championship last month and will now meet Ali Carter or Jack Lisowski in the second round.
He knows both players bring different challenges and believes two-time Sheffield finalist Carter can definitely pose a threat.
The reigning UK champion added: “There are always levels to improve because snooker is a game where it’s almost impossible to play absolutely perfectly.
“That makes it exciting to play this kind of sport as you’re always trying to get better.
“Ali’s got great pedigree here, has made two finals and is a fantastic player. He has a brilliant all-round game and if he hadn’t played Ronnie [O’Sullivan] in his two finals, could have been a world champion.
“The less safety [Jack] plays, the better – he’s an all-out attack player, so either way it will be a tremendous challenge.”
Watch the World Snooker Championship live on Eurosport and Eurosport app from April 17- May 3