Robertson ready for Crucible challenge after being ´hamstrung´ by off-table issues

23 abril 2018 21:25

Neil Robertson is hungry for a return to the business end of the World Snooker Championship after conceding off-table issues have taken their toll on his Crucible form in recent seasons.

The Australian has reached two quarter-finals and a semi since beating Graeme Dott to win the 2010 tournament but has otherwise struggled to make an impact in Sheffield, suffering first and second-round exits in the last two years.

Over the past 12 months, Robertson has opened up about his partner Mille's battle with anxiety and depression, his own addiction to gaming and the impact they have had on his performances.

But the 36-year-old arrives at the season-ending tournament in a positive frame of mind and is eager to make the most of a clear head over the next fortnight. 

"I've had some off-table issues which had been hamstringing me in a way, but I'm all good in that regard now," he told Omnisport.

"So, it's just nice to be able to come here for the first time in about three years where I feel as though my head's really in the right place to do well here, because this tournament's completely different to anything else. It's a huge mental test where everything needs to be going well.

"The last couple of years, mentally my head hasn't been in the right spot. I've been looking forward to the season ending so I would feel like I'd be starting fresh the next year.

"This year I don't want it to end. I want to keep going, I want to go all the way again.

"Obviously, I've won it before and I've had a couple of close shaves since winning it. I'd like to get back into the mix and play my best snooker here.

"When you're having these sessions where you're not really missing a ball and you're playing great and the crowd are really behind you, there's no better feeling in the world. 

"So, I definitely want to get back experiencing that again, especially the one-table set up from the semi-finals, so I want to get there again too."

Robertson's dip in form saw him briefly drop out of the world's top 16, meaning he missed the Masters for the first time in 12 years.

A win at the Scottish Open helped the man from Melbourne climb back among that elite group, but his experience serves as a reminder of the quality of the players hoping to force their way in.

"You look at the guys who qualified [for the Crucible]: Ryan Day, Joe Perry and Stephen Maguire in particular, guys who are used to being in the top 16," he added. "Ryan's won three tournaments – it's just so strange.

"With the ranking system the way it is, where it's based on prize money, you do see these ups and downs.

"But it just goes to show how strong the players are all the way down to around 25. They're all capable of being top-16 players. They all are top 16, there's just not enough room anymore!"

Robertson begins his campaign against Robert Milkins on Tuesday.

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