NEIL ROBERTSON got hot under the collar before securing a third successive victory over Mark Allen in the Dafabet Masters at Alexandra Palace on Wednesday.
The world no.1 edged Allen 6-5 but afterwards complained about temperatures in the arena, which he said contributed to a disappointing overall standard.
“The playing conditions were very tough,” Robertson said. “The arena was far too warm. It’s meant to be hot at the Australian Open [tennis] at the moment but that was just ridiculous.
“You try and play out there with a waistcoat, shirt and tie on and you soon struggle. It was too hot and the cue ball played awful for the first four frames and we had to have it changed.
“So for me the match didn’t really start until 2-2 and even then we were both guessing, not sure what was going to happen.
“Hopefully they can tweak it and get it right. If it’s too cold then you have the opposite effect of the balls bouncing off the cushions by two or three feet more than you expect. It is quite tough to get the balance right. It just needs to be lowered by a few degrees and the players will play a lot better.”
Robertson beat Allen 6-5 in the quarter-finals at the Ally Pally last year and 6-3 in the first round in 2012.
Allen made the better start this time with his swift 114 break in the opening frame but early on could not take advantage of an off key Robertson, who was relieved to enter the interval all square at 2-2.
Allen regained the lead by winning the fifth but missed a tough red to the right middle in the sixth and Robertson made a break of 101, his 66th century of the season, for 3-3.
A long safety duel in the next was won by Allen, who then made 65 for 4-3 only for Robertson to draw level for a fourth time.
By now, air conditioning had cooled the arena but tension remained high. Allen again edged ahead at 5-4 but Robertson once more made it all square to set up a final frame shoot-out.
In the decider, Allen lost position on 30 and later mishit a delicate safety, left a red on and Robertson made a 59 break to set up a last eight clash with Stephen Maguire.
“It was a strange kind of match,” Robertson added. “Neither of us got going at all. He could never pull away when he had chances to. He should have gone 3-1 and 5-3 ahead. He had a great chance in the last frame but ran out of position. He’ll be absolutely sick with that.”
Photographs by Monique Limbos.