Neil Robertson goes into the 2013 Betfair Masters as the defending champion after winning the competition 12 months ago, beating Shaun Murphy in the final 10-6.
The Australian added the trophy for the invitational only event for top 16 players to the World Championship he won in 2010. He now just needs the UK Championship to join a handful of players to have won the sport’s top three premier tournaments.
The Thunder from Down Under, favourite in the snooker betting, will kick his defence off against Ding Junhui in the opening round tie on Sunday afternoon. His Chinese opponent is also a previous winner of the Masters after doing so in 2011 in an all Asian final against Marco Fu where he ran out a 10-4 winner.
Ding has not had the best of season so far after failing to go beyond the second round of a tournament. Robertson, on the other hand, reached the final of the International Championship, was down to the last four of the Premier League and went out in the quarter-final to the eventual winner Mark Selby in York for the UK Championship.
The 2012 winner goes into this year’s tournament as the number on seed and would meet Judd Trump in the final if the top two seeds make it safely through their respective halves. That would be a repeat of their clash in the semi-final in last year’s competition.
Robertson is currently down to number five in the world rankings but held the number one spot for large parts of 2010 and 2011 and is still well fancied in the snooker Masters
odds. He is bidding for his 15th tournament success since turning professional in 1998. He is the only Australian to have won the Masters and if he defends his crown he will be the first man to do so since Paul Hunter in 2002.