Neil Robertson suggests Sheffield could host extra World Championship venue | World Snooker Championship


Neil Robertson has issued a radical proposal for two World Snooker Championship venues after sweeping into the second round at the Crucible on Tuesday.

The Australian, who turned a 6-3 overnight lead into a 10-5 win over debutant Ashley Hugill, has been a long-time critic of the cramped conditions caused by the two-table set-up at the Sheffield venue, which stays in place until the semi-final stage.

Robertson, who won the tournament in 2010 but has yet to reach the semi-finals since, believes a potential answer could lie in identifying a second, similarly sized auditorium in Sheffield. It would act as a second, simultaneous stage through the early-round matches, “so you give everyone who qualifies the one-table experience.”

“My idea is to make it kind of like Wimbledon, where you have Centre Court and Court One,” the world No 3 added. “I think if you had two Crucible venues that are equal, it would be an amazing experience for everyone to end their season [and] Sheffield is well equipped to deal with that.

“Being the World Championship, it should be the biggest event from the start, not the semi-finals,” Robertson concluded. “It’s just an idea. Everyone gets to experience that from round one at the Masters, whereas here there’s only four [semi-finalists].”

Another former Crucible winner, Stuart Bingham, gave the idea short shrift. “Not everybody likes it in those first couple of rounds and it can get a little bit cramped at times, but that’s what makes the Crucible Theatre,” said the 2015 champion, who beat China’s Lyu Haotian 10-5 to set up a last-16 tie with either Kyren Wilson or Ding Junhui.

Stuart Bingham said after his win that the ‘cramped’ auditorium is part of the Crucible challenge.
Stuart Bingham said after his win that the ‘cramped’ auditorium is part of the Crucible challenge. Photograph: Colin Poultney/ProSports/Shutterstock

Robertson, the bookmakers’ favourite to win this year’s title, resumed with a 6-3 lead and won the first three frames on Tuesday morning to move one from victory. Hugill dug deep to delay the inevitable, surviving a tense safety battle and then cutting the gap to 9-5 with a superb 82 clearance before Robertson sealed the win with his fourth century of the match.

In the second round, Robertson will face either the No 14 seed, Jack Lisowski, or the two-time former finalist Matthew Stevens. They begin their first-round contest on Tuesday evening, while the former Masters champion Yan Bingtao resumes his match against Chris Wakelin with a 5-4 lead.

The four-times champion John Higgins trails Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 5-4 after the first session of their opening round match, which is scheduled to conclude on Wednesday.
Higgins produced a break of 128 in the fourth frame to pull level at 2-2, but his Thai opponent finished with a 114 to give himself a good chance of reaching round two for the first time in four attempts.

Brecel brands British players ‘lazy’

Luca Brecel has called the latest generation of British snooker stars “lazy” and “impatient” as he prepares to begin his quest to take the world title home to continental Europe for the first time.

This year marks the first since the advent of 16 seeds in 1980 that no home nation player under the age of 30 has been seeded for the tournament, and the 27-year-old Belgian believes the power shift in snooker is set to continue.

“For the new generation [of British players] it’s all about social media and money,” Brecel said. “These days they all seem so lazy and it will be difficult for more players like [John] Higgins and [Mark] Williams to break through.”

Brecel is one of eight overseas players under the age of 30 – including five from China – in the world’s top 40, while the current top-ranked British twentysomething is world No 42 Sam Craigie.

“I’ve heard a lot of players complain about the 128 [flat-draw system], but I think you just need to get on with it,” Brecel said. “You must accept it’s going to take a long time to be good at something. Impatience is the word.”

Brecel is making his fifth Crucible appearance and is yet to win a match, but arrives in Sheffield on the back of his best season yet, reaching the UK final and winning the Scottish Open. He starts his campaign against Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham on Wednesday.

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