World number one Neil Robertson coughed and spluttered his way through to the China Open quarter-finals and claimed his efforts in adversity this week already make him feel like a champion.
The Cambridge-based Australian is eyeing a title lift ahead of the World Championship, which begins at the Crucible in under three weeks’ time.
But his health is shaky, the 32-year-old battling a virus in Beijing and drawing on his guile and experience to survive the opening three rounds.
After a third successive 5-4 win, this time against China’s Yu Delu, a player who beat Ronnie O’Sullivan last week at the Players Championship Grand Final in Preston, Robertson expressed understandable pride in his achievement.
He came from 4-3 behind to finish off Yu, with a break of 60 in the decider teeing up his victory.
Robertson said: “It almost feels as if I have won the tournament, winning three 5-4s.
“The way I feel it’s an unbelievable achievement. I have been on reserve fuel level in every match, with just the tiniest bit left.
“I need some sleep and rest because I’m so tired. I’m only getting three or four hours’ sleep each night. Perhaps I’ll have recovered a bit more by tomorrow. I am proud of myself for how well I have done here.”
Robertson will tackle his fellow former world champion Graeme Dott for a semi-final place on Friday after the Scot saw off 19-year-old Belgian Luca Brecel 5-2.
Dott knows that whatever Robertson’s condition, the man from Melbourne is an opponent to take seriously.
“I need to perform at my best to have any chance,” Dott said on worldsnooker广西桑拿,.
Jimmy White’s tournament, in which he has almost certainly assured himself of a tour card for next season by coming through two rounds, ended at the hands of world number two Mark Selby, with the 51-year-old six-time World Championship runner-up suffering a 5-1 defeat.
Ali Carter fended off Peter Ebdon 5-3 and awaits Ricky Walden, a 5-3 winner against an under-par Shaun Murphy.
China’s Ding Junhui impressed in a 5-2 victory over John Higgins, making four hefty breaks before peaking in the final frame with a run of 124.
Should he triumph on Sunday, Ding will become the first player since Stephen Hendry to win five ranking events in a single season, the ideal fillip ahead of another crack at the world title in Sheffield, his adopted home town.