New Delhi: Coming from Australia, it did not come as a surprise when world number one snooker player Neil Robertson talked about his country`s great cricketing rivalry with India and Sachin Tendulkar`s retirement from Test cricket.
Robertson surely knows a thing or two about Australian cricket despite getting little time to follow the game due to his hectic professional schedule and always loves to watch an India-Australia contest.
"It`s sad day for Indian cricket that Tendulkar is retiring from the game. He is an exceptional player. Everyone knows about the great rivalry between the two finest cricketers -- Shane Warne and Tendulkar. It was a treat to watch both of them contest," said Robertson.
The `Thunder from Down Under` opened his innings in the 300,000 pound World Snooker Indian Open with a dominating show against Thailand`s Noppon Saengkham today. Robertson displayed an attacking style of snooker to outclass his opponent 4-1 in the first round.
The 31-year-old felt that there were no more rivalries on display in cricket due to the advent of T20 format.
"Earlier, there used to be a fierce rivalry between the two sides but nowadays, you hardly see any rivalry. The two sides don`t compete that fiercely but that`s how it has become. Everyone is playing the T20 game; everyone is going the T20 way. For me, Test cricket is always important."
Talking more about cricket, the left-handed cueist informed the select gathering that he himself was a right-arm medium fast bowler and batsman during his school and college days.
Coming back to snooker, Robertson said those looking to challenge him for the top honours will have to be at their best.
"I have had a good start to this season. I won the Wuxi Classic ranking event and got to the final of the Australian Open, though I was disappointed to lose to Marco Fu. I am giving it 100 per cent in every tournament and I have been consistent, which means that someone has to play really well to beat me," he said.
Robertson said he was impressed with the way Pankaj Advani and Aditya Mehta, the only two Indians on the professional circuit, have adapted to the conditions in the UK and improved their respective games.
The 31-year-old cueist, who won 2010 World Championship, believes snooker has the potential to grow in India at the same extent as it has in China in recent years.
Talking about the recent match-fixing in his sport which saw former world number five Stephen Lee banned for 12 years from the game, Robertson said, "The sport`s governing body did what seemed right to them. There is zero tolerance approach for fixing."
Robertson said he was enjoying his stint at the top of the world rankings and wanted to remain there as long as he could.
"I am number one in the world, which is a great achievement. I don`t know why I`m still getting better but may be it`s because I did not start playing snooker until I was 15 or 16."