STEPHEN MAGUIRE pulled off a sweet win over world No1 Neil Robertson on Friday night to reach the semi-finals of the Masters at Alexandra Palace.

And with a 6-2 victory the 32-year-old Scot set up a last-four clash with tournament favourite Ronnie O’Sullivan who was in world record-breaking form in the afternoon.

The world No5 also immediately dedicated the win to his mother – who had organised anti-biotics to be sent to London to treat a son stricken with tonsillitis.

Maguire has seen Australian Robertson, 31, overtake him down the years both in the rankings and in terms of titles won.

But the reigning Welsh Open champion, who had not beaten recent UK winner Robertson in a major event for five years, gained some measure of revenge at Alexandra Palace.

He raced into a 3-0 lead – and when Robertson closed to 3-2 impressively kicked on again to the winning line rather than folding.

It is a third semi-final at the £600,000 tournament for Glasgow professional Maguire – who has never gone further in north London.

And he had lost for the last three years in the first round at the prestigious invitation event for the last three years.

But although world champion O’Sullivan, 38, represents a formidable obstacle five-time ranking event winner Maguire still has the £200,000 first prize in his sights.

And despite a losing record against four-time Masters winner O’Sullivan there have been notable wins over the Rocket, and some great matches.

O’Sullivan memorably after defeat at the 2004 UK Championship tipped Maguire to dominate the sport for a decade.

That did not happen and Maguire admits more freely now that he has underachieved given a considerable natural ability, unwilling to make sacrifices made by the likes of Robertson.

The pair also took part in a magnificent German Masters final in 2012 that proved the springboard for O’Sullivan’s return to form and a fourth world title that year.

Maguire said: “Any time you beat the world No1 it is a great result, we could have played better but I will take that win.

“There was a lot of safety and few misses and that led to a long first frame. I played better from when he got back to 3-2, the alarm bells went and I upped my game. That surprised me.

“I was close to pulling out on Thursday, I have tonsillitis and if it wasn’t for my mum getting the anti-biotics down here I had told her I couldn’t play.

“So that win is for my mum for what she did, I couldn’t even speak yesterday but I feel a lot better now and I am on the medicine for a week now.

“Ronnie was pretty good today, I spoke to Ricky Walden and he couldn’t do much. If Ronnie plays like that he will beat me – but tomorrow is a different day.”

No Scot has made a Masters final for eight years since John Higgins beat O’Sullivan in a thriller to almost literally bring the house down at the old Wembley Conference Centre.

Robertson said: “It was a really lacklustre performance, and that is the last time I drive myself to a match more than an hour away. I just seemed to lack concentration.

“It was similar to Mark Allen, no adrenaline, and no buzz, I didn’t feel under any pressure and it was an empty performance. The first frame was very long, the worst we have ever played.”


Photographs by Monique Limbos