Neil Robertson admitted he was ‘mentally exhausted’ after reaching three ranking event finals in the space of two weeks.
The Cambridge-based potter celebrated his birthday by securing another win at the ManBetX Welsh Open with an accomplished 4-2 victory over Jamie Clarke, extending his impressive run of just one defeat in his last 20 matches.
But after reaching the finals of the European Masters, German Masters and World Grand Prix in the space of just 14 days, the world No.2 said he almost withdrew from the final Home Nations event of the season - in which he is defending champion - through fatigue.
“I contemplated pulling out of the event - in fact, I was 100 per cent convinced after my World Grand Prix final that I wouldn’t be able to perform at any kind of level to compete for the title,” the 38-year-old said.
What an amazing 3 weeks and topped off by this title tonight. Graeme is an absolute champion and never gave up. The reserves are low but somehow managed to scrape the last bit of water from the well. My brain needs a rest lol pic.twitter.com/lMRYLQZ42D— Neil Robertson🌱 (@nr147) February 10, 2020
“I spoke to some other top players who said they would have withdrawn, while some said they wouldn’t if they were defending champion, and I guess that was probably what swayed me.
“Mentally, it’s extremely difficult to keep getting myself up for it, and even if I’m trying as hard as I can, subconsciously it’s just not happening.
“I was feeling drained coming into this event, for sure, and my head was all over the place during that match about what to do through mental exhaustion.
“I’ve decided to play now so there are no regrets about not pulling out - I absolutely love this event and I love Cardiff, but coming here I just knew I wasn’t going to play well, so it’s a tough sport to be in.
“But then it’s strange complaining because the year I was world champion there were only six ranking events and now I’ve just played three in three weeks, so I can’t really complain.”
The 2010 world champion has been in searing form this season, lifting the European Masters, World Grand Prix and Champion of Champions trophies while reaching the fourth rounds at the Scottish Open and UK Championship.
There's no denying @nr147's form...— World Snooker Tour (@WeAreWST) February 8, 2020
He is through to his third successive ranking final in three weeks and three different countries! 🤯
26 Jan - European Masters 🇦🇹
2 Feb - German Masters 🇩🇪
9 Feb - World Grand Prix 🏴#CoralSnookerSeries pic.twitter.com/0eryMUW1hG
But while personal fatigue is one issue for the 18-time ranking event-winner, he says another is the impact his relentless travelling has on his family.
“It’s really tough on my wife being away from the family for the whole time - my daughter, Penelope, is only ten months old so Mille has hardly slept for three weeks,” he added.
“It was funny because when I left the Grand Prix in Cheltenham she didn’t even say good luck to me or anything, and I was thinking ‘do you want me to get beaten?’
“My son, Alexander, definitely wants me to get beaten because I keep missing all his football and everything, so it is tough.
“It is pretty difficult for us guys who have got families - the last few weeks have been absolutely amazing and my game’s in unbelievable shape, but I did feel drained coming into this event.”