DEFENDING champion Neil Robertson battled back from the brink of defeat as a terrific fightback saw him beat Ding Junhui on the opening day of The Masters.
The Australian’s hopes of keeping hold of the Masters trophy he won last year appeared to be in tatters when the Chinese star took a 5-3 lead.
But the 2010 world champion showed the Alexandra Palace crowd his world class ability and a nerve of steel winning the final three frames to mark an exciting start to the competition.
Robertson made a superb start as a break of 76 gave him the opening frame before he doubled his lead in the next frame to take a 2-0 lead.
Ding, who won his first Masters title back in 2011, then fought back with breaks of 103 and 53 to level the scores at 2-2 at the mid-session interval.
Robertson regained the lead after the restart winning a scrappy fifth frame but it was the China star who moved to within one frame of victory after he won the next three frames with a top break of 127 in the process.
The next frame saw the Australian keep his hopes alive with a break of 100 which reduced his deficit to 5-4.
The match appeared to be over when Ding was in the balls in frame ten but was unfortunate to leave himself out of position while on a break of 50.
Robertson took full advantage of Ding’s misfortune as a superb long red saw him make a vital clearance of 62 to force the match into a deciding frame.
And when Robertson potted the crucial red to give him the match he yelled out ‘You Beauty’ to the crowd in his delight of completing a tremendous comeback. A break of 90 sealed a thrilling win.
The Australian will face Mark Allen in the quarter finals after he beat UK Championship semi-finalist Mark Davis 6-2 earlier tonight.
In a comfortable win, the Northern Ireland potter won four frames on the bounce to seal a place in the last eight. An impressive performance saw last season’s World Open winner make top breaks of 136, 80 and 79.
Monday sees John Higgins face Ali Carter and it will be a battle of Scotland in the evening match when Stephen Maguire takes on Graeme Dott.