Neil Robertson was surprised and delighted with the audience interaction during his win over Liang Wenbo in the first round of the World Championship.
It is the first event where fans are allowed to attend, with it being a test for the government’s roadmap for easing coronavirus restrictions.
Robertson turned on the style to wow the fans, as he crushed Liang 10-3.
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The Australian was not sure how the crowd would react at the Crucible, and was delighted with how things played out.
“The crowd was really good,” Robertson told Eurosport. “It felt a lot more than one third capacity. It felt a lot more.
“That’s the thing with the Crucible, it feels more when it’s at capacity. It felt like that today and it was a nice surprise.
“I was a bit worried that the crowd might be a bit reserved this year, and just restricted to the odd clap here and there, but they were cheering and it was really nice.”
Robertson was the pre-tournament favourite on the back of some impressive play - notably his mauling of Ronnie O’Sullivan in the Tour Championship final - and he has been showing high levels in practice; he made back-to-back centuries in front of his father.
“Probably 90% of my practice I do solo,” he said. “But it just happened to be that the one day my dad comes to the club.
“I was playing my mate Ryan and made 120-odd in the first frame. It was going well, I then made 147 and the next frame, the owner of the club came up and he must have a really old phone, as when he hit the record button this noise went off so it put me under the pump a bit.
“It was a good buzz.”
Robertson was dragged into a war in the last two World Championships, losing to John Higgins and Mark Selby, and he is determined to ensure there is not a repeat this year.
“The biggest challenge I face is myself,” he said. “I have got myself involved in games I should not have got involved in.
“If you look at the last six or seven years, apart from losing to Ronnie and to Judd [Trump], the players I’ve lost to have ground me down in a couple of sessions. It was not free-flowing and I got involved in that and did not realise until it was too late.”
Robertson topped a Eurosport poll as the greatest non-British or Irish player, securing 80% of the vote against Cliff Thorburn, Ding Junhui and James Wattana.
“It is fantastic and amazing so many people have voted for me,” Robertson said. “All those Chinese players on the tour are because of Ding.
“Cliff was the first to break the mould of the British dominance and James Wattana was the first Asian player to do really well.”
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