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Neil Robertson not worried by slide down rankings ahead of UK Championship

Neil Robertson is unconcerned by the prospect of plunging out of the world’s top 16 as he aims to resurrect a challenging campaign by clinching a fourth UK Snooker Championship title in York.

The 41-year-old Australian heads into the sport’s second biggest tournament – which starts on Saturday at the city’s Barbican Centre – having failed to get beyond the last 64 in any of his six ranking events so far this season.

In recent months, Robertson has spoken candidly about suffering from homesickness and will take a short break from the game when he jets home next month to spend the festive season with his family for the first time since prior to his solitary world title win in 2010.

Falling out of the sport’s elite is unthinkable for a player of Robertson’s calibre, but he remains upbeat about his prospects of turning his season around ahead of his return to one of his most profitable venues.

Robertson told the PA news agency: “I’ve been through similar things a couple of times before and it doesn’t really bother me.

“I’ve struggled to get up for some matches and my opponents have been on a roll and punished me for a few mistakes. I haven’t put in too many shocker performances. It’s just part of sport and you go through it now and again.

“I dropped out of the top 16 briefly before (in 2017), then I won the Scottish Open and went on to have quite a dominant spell for the next two years.

“When I dropped out, I remember it actually being a bit of a relief because you feel like you’ve experienced the worst of it. It wouldn’t bother me at all if I had to qualify for the Crucible, it’s not really in my thinking.”

Robertson had cut a forlorn figure when he lost to Jak Jones in the second round of this year’s World Championship, a defeat that stretched his winless streak at the Crucible to 13 years and shortly afterwards he realised it was time to take drastic action.

“When it really hit me was when I was watching my AFL team, Collingwood, win the Grand Final and all my family was watching it together back home and close friends I hadn’t really seen in the last 20-odd years,” added Robertson.

When I dropped out, I remember it being a bit of a relief because you feel like you’ve experienced the worst of it. It wouldn’t bother me at all if I had to qualify for the Crucible, it’s not really in my thinking

Neil Robertson

“I was Facetiming the people back home, they were having a barbecue on the day, there were my nephews who I hadn’t really seen much of and I thought, jeez it’s been 20 years of missing out on those moments. I found it really hard.”

Before his overdue return home, Robertson begins his quest to become only the fourth player to win four or more UK titles when he faces Zhou Yuelong – whom he beat in the semi-finals when he last triumphed three years ago – in the first round on Tuesday.

Defending champion Mark Allen gets the tournament under way on Saturday in a repeat of last year’s final against Ding Junhui, while Ronnie O’Sullivan – looking for a record eighth crown – also starts on Tuesday against Anthony McGill.

For Robertson, the return to a stand-alone last 32 event is a welcome development in the history of the prestigious tournament and one he believes will motivate the best players to bring out their best on the day.

“It’s a tournament that everyone gets up for,” added Robertson.

“It’s got a great history, it gets great coverage and it all adds up to the type of tournament that when you’re used to playing at the top of the game, you really want to win.”


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