Not many former world champions could claim to have ‘underachieved’ after reaching the very top of their sport, but that’s the stark admission that 2010 winner Neil Robertson made here at the Crucible yesterday.
The Thunder from Down Under has won an impressive ten ranking events, and made history last season by becoming the first player to make a century of century breaks.
But the 33-year-old is determined not to be remembered as just a one-time world title winner, and started his Crucible campaign off in superb style with a 10-2 demolition job of Welsh qualifier Jamie Jones.
“It’s a harsh to say I’ve underachieved, but I think I could have won a lot more if I’d just sacrificed that little bit more,” admitted Robertson.
“If you were to stop my career now and look back I definitely would have a sense of ‘what if’, what if I practised more?
“I don’t just want to be a one-time world champion, I want to be a two, three, four-time champion.
“I’ve put in more hours for this tournament than any other in my career so I’ve left no stone unturned in my preparation.”
The Aussie ace resumed 7-2 ahead and pocketed a top break of 133 – to go with his two other centuries in the match – to send Welshman Jones out with a whimper.
Robertson added: “Coming into this tournament, the way I’ve been practicing is absolutely unbelievable.
“Before I played my first round match I potted something like 300 balls without missing. That’s the sort of stuff [Stephen] Hendry used to do – he used to not miss for six or seven frames.
“That’s what you have to do if you want to dominate matches.”
Earlier in the day, Barry Hawkins, a Crucible runner-up in 2013, led Matthew Selt 9-4, but the qualifier won five frames on the spin to force a dramatic final frame.
The world No 5 held his nerve under pressure to progress to the next phase. “I’m relieved to have limped over the line,” admitted Hawkins.
Today five-time winner Ronnie O’Sullivan kicks off his campaign against qualifier Craig Steadman, making his first appearance at the Crucible in 14 years as a professional.