A brutally honest Neil Robertson admitted that mental exhaustion lay behind his 5-0 hammering at the hands of Kyren Wilson in the quarter-finals of the Welsh Open, with the defending champion telling Eurosport that “there was just nothing there”.
Robertson looked desperately out-of-sorts in the match which decided who would face Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final four, following his own 5-1 demolition job on Mark Selby.
Robertson has been struggling throughout the tournament in Cardiff. After his 4-2 win over Jamie Clarke as early as the first round he said he felt as though he was using, “the last of my reserves, like scraping the absolute bottom of the well.”
Robertson said he considered withdrawing from the match as he was so mentally shot, but was reluctant to do so as defending champion, and added of Clarke: “he could have done me a favour by knocking me out.”
'I almost withdrew, I'm exhausted' - Robertson honest after win
And despite battling through successive rounds against Mark Joyce, Noppon Saengkham and Gerard Greene, Robertson admitted Friday’s heavy defeat to Wilson had been coming.
'There was just nothing there'
“It was the performance I was expecting to happen earlier in the week,” Robertson told Eurosport.
Last night actually gave me a lot of hope but I woke up today and when I got out there, there was just nothing there. Physically absolutely fine, just mentally I couldn’t get up for the match.
“I tried to make myself try, but I don’t know, there was just nothing there. The best way to play is when you are not really under pressure but you just have a little bit of nerves ticking away… I had nothing at all. I was kind of like the same pressure you have in practice.
Robertson: There was just nothing there, mentally I couldn't get up for it
“I just couldn’t find anything today. Kyren didn’t really have to do much to win. I’m glad I stuck it through the week. I made like four centuries this week which raises another £4,000 to the donations and everything going towards China, so that’s good.
“[Wife] Mel’s been texting me the last couple of weeks. Because I was texting her before the match saying, ‘Yeah I’ll probably lose this one and then I’ll come home’, and afterwards she was like, ‘yeah, you are trying really hard to lose, aren’t you?’ And I keep winning my matches.
“It was what I was expecting. I’d rather go out now and give Kyren a really good chance to win the tournament. If I’m being totally honest with myself, if I got through that today I still felt as though I was going to get turned over at some point, if I’m being 100% honest with myself.”
Why is he so tired?
Neil Robertson of Australia reacts during the 1st round match against Jamie Rhys Clarke of Wales on day two of the 2020 ManBetX Welsh Open at the Motorpoint Arena on February 11, 2020 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
Image credit: Getty Images
Robertson’s excellent recent form has been the undoing of him in Cardiff.
Prior to the Welsh Open he had reached three different finals in three successive countries:
European Masters final (Jan 26): Robertson beat Zhou Yuelong 9-0
German Masters final (Feb 2): Robertson lost to Judd Trump 9-6
World Grand Prix final (Feb 9): Robertson beat Graeme Dott
Robertson has played 24 matches in a little over four weeks – and the effort caught up with him.
Expert analysis: ‘He wanted it over, didn’t he?’
Speaking in the Eurosport studio, 12-time women’s world champion Reanne Evans said it was clear that Robertson was ready to exit the tournament.
I totally agree with him – he did look a bit flat out there. I think he wanted it over, didn’t he? Fair play to him, he’s been magnificent the last month.
And Jimmy White said that without the necessary mental motivation, Robertson was always going to struggle.
He’s just mentally tired. He said he feels physically okay, but sometimes if you can’t concentrate - this game is a lot between the ears – if you’ve got none of the adrenalin pumping, or you’re not feeling it, it’s a difficult game to play. And obviously you’ve got someone else trying to beat you.