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Oceania Snooker News
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The snooker World Cup takes place at the Wuxi Stadium in China in June, and there's plenty to be getting excited about for the Scotch doubles format tournament. Usually players grace the tables as individuals, flying only their own flag. The World Cup gives them the chance to team up with their countrymen to battle it out for national pride and of course the huge $200,000 winner's prize.


by  Peter Huys

Melbourne's Neil Robertson teams up with Campbelltown's Vinnie Calabrese, with the pair firm friends as well as Australian compatriots. Robertson is the country's finest ever export in the game and is the current world number 3, whilst Calabrese is trying to follow in those footsteps as an up-and-comer but he's yet to really make an impact. However, Robertson's status is enough to put the pair amongst the favourites, with 32Red having them at 6/1 to lift the trophy.

32Red's odds have Chinese duo Ding Junhui and Xiao Guodong among the leading contenders coming in, with Junhui one half of last year's winning pair. Unibet also run a similar line, expecting Team China to come out on top. With Robertson's prowess and Calabrese at his best, the Aussies will certainly feel like they can take some big scalps on their day.

Both men have had good success in China and feel at home there. Robertson has sunk a 147 in Wuxi before, as well as in the China Open back in 2010. Calabrese had a good outing at the Wuxi Classic, although he'll be hoping to go much further than the last 64 place.

In June of 2014, Robertson picked up the first major of the year in the same tournament, defeating Joe Perry in the final. His form there is undoubtedly a factor, although he has had a mixed bag of results elsewhere so far this season. His ranking has slipped, albeit still in the top three, with the Gdynia Open his only win. Rankings points were gained as Masters finalist and World Championship quarter-finalist, but when you've been a world champion already you know you're capable of more. He'll look to try and kickstart that in a place where he regularly delivers the goods.

His scoring was on point at The Crucible, with four breaks of 140+. The key for him now is to convert that into victory. Robertson is always a massively entertaining player to watch but if can get back to his best he will achieve what many expect he can. At the top level it's a game of millimetres, so easier said than done. If he can get comfortable with the run of the table and at ease with his partner, there's no reason why they can't brush through the lesser opposition in the group stages on route to some knockout stage upsets.

Calabrese needs to uphold his end of the bargain, though. He recently went back to the amateur ranks to win the Oceania Championship and qualify for another two years on the main tour. It was a decision that worked out well for him career-wise, although some did question its validity in an ethical sense. It has to be now or never for him in his quest to make snooker pay as a pro. The World Cup will show just how much he is standing in the shadow of his team-mate. He needs to forge his own path and show that he can be a successful player in his own right, without having to ride on the coat tails of Robertson.

After being such close personal friends for years, Robertson sees that as a positive and he believes it'll help them gel and make an impact when it comes down to match time.

"I think it can only help if you're playing with someone you get along with very well," he revealed, with Calabrese the yin to his yang as left and right handers, respectively.

Does Calabrese have the fire power to back up Robertson when he needs it the most? We're hoping so, and a career best performance at this point in time would certainly give him a boost, and Australian snooker as a whole.

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