The world number one was trailing 5-2 at one stage but went into the evening session full of confidence after taking the last two of the afternoon session.
Robertson then took control in the evening by winning the first four frames up for decision which saw him go 8-5 in front.
He did so with some impressive play, if not blockbuster breaks, with runs of 57 and 59 the best he could manage during that period.
After the mid-session interval a break of 66 helped Higgins stop the bleeding and reduced the deficit to 8-6 but then another two mini-breaks from Robertson brought him to within one frame of victory.
Higgins edged a tight 16th frame to close the gap again but breaks of 32 and 65 in the final frame ensured the win for Robertson and extended his lead at the top of the World Snooker rankings.
After winning the China Open at the end of last season, it means Robertson has won the last two ranking events in China.
FIRST SESSION REPORT
Four-time world champion John Higgins leads Neil Robertson 5-4 after the first session of the Wuxi Classic final.
In a tense encounter in China, the two experienced players exchanged blows to go level at 2-2 before Higgins rattled off three frames in succession.
A rally from Robertson ensures he remains in touch heading into the second session of the best-of-19 match.
Robertson opened with a break of 61 to take the first frame but Higgins responded with a 78 in frame two to draw level.
Higgins also had the better of a scrappy third frame and, after a 91 gave Robertson the fourth, enjoyed breaks of 70, 93 and 82 to pull clear.
However, his Australian opponent took the eighth frame with breaks of 20 and 52 before enjoying a fine 113 in the final frame of the first session.