Australia’s Neil Robertson booked his place in the quarter-finals of this year’s World Championships with a 13-7 win over Mark Allen on Monday only to barely miss out on a notable landmark.
The world number one was left stranded on 99 competitive century breaks for the season, with Robertson still one shy of becoming the first man to compile 100 hundreds in a single tour campaign.
Melbourne-born Robertson, the 2010 world champion, resumed with an overnight 9-7 lead and then made breaks of 59 and 69 to pull further in front against his Northern Irish opponent.
Remarkably, Robertson succumbed to something akin to cricket’s ‘nervous nineties’ in the next two frames when he missed pots after recording breaks of 94 and 92 respectively, although both those efforts were more than enough to be frame-winners.
“Throughout the whole match Mark kept sticking with me and I thought he played really well,” Robertson told the BBC after his latest victory at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre in northern England.
“He’s always going to score really heavily but his safety was really good and I didn’t have many opportunities at long balls.
“I was really happy to be 4-4 and at 9-7 I was delighted because I won quite a lucky frame. I had quite an unbelievable fluke on the green, so to come out today (Monday), I knew I had to come out and play really well.
“Those last two frames I was like a cricketer on 90 or something like that. It was unfortunate. I missed the black with one red left and I thought I hit the black perfectly and I was about to celebrate but it rattled in the jaws.
“That frame there, I missed a really tough red down the cushion and I thought I hit it pretty good again but it wasn’t to be. The snooker gods are going to keep you guys waiting a little bit longer.”
Seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry was in the commentary box and Robertson, who long ago surpassed Judd Trump’s record of 63 hundreds in a tour season, was disappointed not to have reached his 100th century in front of the Scottish snooker great.
“I was gutted because Hendry was in the commentary box as well and I would have loved to do it with him in there,” Robertson said.
“Hopefully for the next couple of sessions he can be in the box as it would be good to do it in front of him.”
Robertson will play Trump in the last eight after the Englishman defeated Wales’s Ryan Day 13-7.
Former champion Shaun Murphy will take on title-holder Ronnie O’Sullivan in the last eight after completing a 13-8 win over Hong Kong’s Marco Fu.
Resuming at 9-7, 2005 world champion Murphy won the first three frames of Monday’s evening session before Fu halted his chance with a break of 92 only for the Englishman to win the next and set up a clash with O’Sullivan, bidding for a sixth world title.
Earlier on Monday, Wales’s Dominic Dale took the frame he needed to secure a 13-4 win over Michael Wasley, the shock first-round conqueror of China’s Ding Junhui.
Dale will play Barry Hawkins, last year’s losing finalist, in the quarter-finals, with the remaining last-eight tie seeing veteran Alan McManus up against Mark Selby.