Lesson in losing control: Heartbreak for Cao Yupeng after handing Scottish Open to Neil Robertson

Chinese star misses black in penultimate 16th frame to allow former world champion to come back from 8-4 down to seal win in first final appearance in over a year

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 December, 2017, 12:35pm
UPDATED : Monday, 18 December, 2017, 10:39pm

China’s Cao Yupeng has vowed to learn from the game’s top players after losing an epic Scottish Open final to former world champion Neil Robertson in Glasgow, despite needing only one frame from the final five to win a first ranking title in his debut ranking event final.

“I am just a little bit sad because I put too much pressure on myself when I got close to winning,” Cao said. “My heart needs to be a bit stronger and that is what I need to learn from Neil and the top 16 players. They don’t lose control in the big moments of the game.

“I don’t want to think about it too much. Today was not a good day. I just needed one more frame. I was 8-4 up. Hopefully, it won’t be too bad for my confidence.”

Despite not being a good day, it was certainly a good week for Cao, who not only reached his first ever ranking final but also hit a first professional maximum 147 break in his opening round win over Andrew Higginson.

His previous best result was reaching the final four of this season’s European Masters in October, where he lost to Judd Trump in the semi-final, but he got revenge over the world number three in Glasgow.

Cao beat Trump to reach the final, in a game that saw the Englishman complain afterwards over his opponent’s slow play.

In the other semi-final Robertson exorcised some of his own demons in reaching a first ranking final in over a year by beating world number five and local favourite John Higgins.

Despite Cao only needing one frame, former world champion Robertson sensed the game was there for the taking when Cao’sbody language changed.

“I started to notice some nerves and jitters in his cue action and I was super aggressive in the next few frames. It was all out attack to put him under pressure,” Robertson said.

“He just completely outplayed me for a lot of the match. Up to 8-4 it was one of the best performances ever against me.

“He played as the underdog and was free flowing with no pressure. I was expecting some of the mistakes he made at the end to come at the start of the match.”

Even still, the Australian was gracious and admitted he nearly lost the game in the 16th frame: “I was millimetres from losing with Cao rattling the black.”

In the end Robertson’s experience paid off as Cao could not make his advantage count to become only the third Chinese player after Ding Junhui and Liang Wenbo to win a ranking event final.

The 27-year-old from Guangzhou, who is based in Gloucester in England, turned pro in 2011 but lost his tour card in 2016 after finishing outside the top 64 places and had to regain a card through World Snooker Q School at the start of last season.

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His performance at the Scottish Open means that he will start the second half of the 2017-18 season inside the top 64.