By Luke Baker

ALI Carter insists all roads now lead to the World Championship after suffering a quarter-final defeat at the Masters.

Colchester-born Carter was unfortunate to run into an inspired Neil Robertson at London’s Alexandra Palace, as the world number one produced some mesmerising snooker to cruise to a 6-1 victory.

The Australian opened up with a break of 128 and never let up with the Essex potter’s sole success coming in a tight, 37-minute frame three.

Robertson made further contributions of 98, 127 and 84 as he gave Chelmsford-based Carter no chance to replicate the form that saw him defeat Barry Hawkins in the first round.

But the 35-year-old insisted he was pleased with his first tournament since being given the all-clear from cancer in December and is optimistic for the second half of the season.

“I was in a happy place out there, I was enjoying it but I was under extreme pressure because I haven’t had a look-in,” Carter said.

“Every time I came to the table I was either snookered or tight to the baulk cushion. He punished me and played unbelievable safety but that’s just the way it goes.

“I’m looking forward to the World Championship and every match is a building block for me now – this has been the first proper tournament back for me really.

“I know I’ve got the game but I’m nowhere near match sharp – these boys have played a lot of matches whereas I haven’t, so come the World Championship I won’t be the one who is burned out.

“I’m going to get back in the gym now, do the right things and work hard at my game and we’ll see what happens.”

Robertson’s win sets up a mouth-watering semi-final clash with five-time Masters champion Ronnie O’Sullivan on Saturday.

‘The Rocket’ is favourite to add a sixth Masters title to his CV but Carter believes Robertson is the man to beat.

“He played absolutely awesome,” added Carter. "You can forget about Ronnie O’Sullivan, if Neil plays like that then there’s only going to be one winner of this tournament.

“I should have got it to 3-2 really but he put me under so much pressure and when you're under that sort of pressure, everything is difficult.

“I played well in my first match but you can only play as well as someone lets you and Neil just played unbelievably.

“There’s no-one, and I mean no-one, who has played like that against me and I’ve played Ronnie [O’Sullivan] twice in the final of the World Championship. So all credit to Neil.”

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