Ronnie O’Sullivan’s Masters defence ended with a whimper as Neil Robertson stormed into the final with a 6-1 victory at the Alexandra Palace.
The world No.1 snapped O’Sullivan’s 15-match wining streak in all competitions and will now face Shaun Murphy in a repeat of the 2012 final after the Englishman beat Mark Allen 6-2.
“Beating Ronnie here is a really special achievement for me,” said Robertson.
“It was an amazing atmosphere. That’s why I wanted to have a crack at him in the World Championship final last year, because he’s the only player who can create that kind of atmosphere.
“If you put pressure on someone in any sport they will make mistakes. You have to keep your foot down, you can’t let them back into the match.”
O’Sullivan was in trouble from the off with Robertson securing the opening frame with a 100 break, before the five-time champion missed a frame-ball black to allow the Australian in for a 2-0 lead.
That lead soon stretched to 3-0 before O’Sullivan made a 101 break in the fourth frame, a record 777th century of his career.
But the world No.1 went 4-1 up with a 58 break before reeling off the final two frames to complete the drubbing as he looks to seal a second Masters triumph.
“Neil played a great game and had me in lots of trouble,” said O’Sullivan. “I missed a lot of balls and made a lot of mistakes. I knew it was coming eventually because I’ve been scraping through matches.
“The last time I played good consistent stuff was here and at the Welsh Open last season. Since then I’ve probably only played two good matches – the rest of the time I’ve just been digging in. Neil played well enough to expose my weaknesses – he took me apart.
“I’m not the player I was 18 months ago, but I think I can get it back by playing in more tournaments. You can’t go missing for five or six frames, as I am doing. I had years of that, and it makes things tough.”
With his victory over Allen in the evening session, Murphy kept alive his hopes of securing a career ‘triple crown’, coming back from 2-0 down to win six frames in a row.
“A lot has been said and written about me needing this to complete the triple crown. As much as you try and ignore it, you can’t,” Murphy told the BBC.
“It does mean so much to have another crack in the final. When Neil plays like he has done this week, he is almost unbeatable. It is my job to try and find a nick somewhere.”