ALI CARTER’s TV comeback ended in a 4-0 defeat to an inspired Neil Robertson at the Dafabet Champion of Champions event in Coventry on Friday.
Carter, playing his first televised match since the World Championship last May after extensive treatment for lung cancer, received a standing ovation from a packed house as he was introduced into the arena.
But Robertson played superbly, making two centuries to win the match in 72 minutes and advance to the semi-finals.
And the Australian admitted he had to shut out the special nature of the occasion and concentrate on being professional.
“I knew before the tournament there was a chance I’d be playing him and when the draw came out I told myself I had to be professional and at the same time show respect for Ali by trying to play my best snooker,” Robertson said.
“I went out there and played close to my best. I was strong in all departments and overall am very pleased.”
Robertson began the season with victory at the Wuxi Classic and a run to the final of the Australian Goldfields Open but results since have been less encouraging. Last week he was beaten 6-5 from 3-0 up to Joe Swail in the second round of the International Championship. At the Shanghai Masters he was beaten 5-4 by Michael White in the first round, again from 3-0 up.
“It’s hard to peak for ten months of the year,” Robertson said. “It was similar to last season. I haven’t made as many centuries but I haven’t played anywhere near as many matches.
“Also, I like to gauge my performances in front of a packed house, not ten or 15 people as happened last week in China. It’s hard to get up for those matches.
“I’ve lost in Shanghai and at the International having been 3-0 up both times. I thought I’d win 5-0 and 6-0 because my opponents were playing that badly that I just thought I’ve just got to keep coming to the table and I’d win. I took my foot off the gas and got duly punished. Sometimes you need a friendly reminder that you can’t just expect to win.”
Carter meanwhile left Coventry delighted to be back playing again and looking forward to the rest of the season.
“I didn’t come here expecting to do much,” he said. “I won the General Cup but I was in a different frame of mind for that. It was more of a holiday and there were no TV cameras.
“I felt all right today. I felt if I got my hand on the table and a decent chance, even at 3-0, that I could win but it didn’t work out that way.
“I’m delighted to be back. It’s disappointing not to give a good account of myself but Neil didn’t miss much.”
Photographs by Monique Limbos.