Higgins Humbled by Milkins

Robert Milkins produced a fine display to shock world champion John Higgins and reach the semi-finals of the World Open in China.

After the 5-3 victory, the qualifier from Gloucester is in the last four of a ranking event for only the second time in his career – seven years after he made it to the same stage of the Irish Masters in 2005.

Milkins has now beaten two top 8 players en route, the other being another Scotsman in Stephen Maguire, and will play in-form Stephen Lee for a first ever final.

The triumph was made all the more sweeter given the fact that his opponent was playing well, showing signs of a return to form as the season nears its conclusion and the World Championship in April.

35 year-old Milkins raced into a 2-0 lead with breaks of 117 and 97 but Higgins fought back well to level at the mid-session interval, aided by a top run of 136.

It was here that you would have expected the former world number one to impose himself on the tie but Milkins showed very few signs of weakness and claimed three of the next four frames for a memorable success.

Lee had a slightly easier task in his quarter-final encounter with Graeme Dott, overcoming the Scot 5-1.

It means that, in the last month alone, Lee has now reached two semi-finals and one quarter-final in consecutive ranking events and will be favourite to reach his first final since the 2006 Welsh Open.

Lee didn’t play anywhere near as well as he did when he knocked out Neil Robertson in the previous round, when he fired in three centuries, but didn’t need to as Dott was never at the races.

In the bottom half of the draw, Mark Selby and Mark Allen will battle it out to be in amongst the winner’s medals on Sunday after similarly comfortable wins.

Selby whitewashed Shaun Murphy 5-0 while Allen made light work of Mark King with a 5-1 drubbing but the session was overshadowed by the difficult playing conditions in Hainan.

With humidity extremely high and the arena poorly ventilated, all four struggled to produce to a high standard to the ultimate cost to Murphy and King.

It is by no means ideal but it appears that the champion this week will be the one that is able to adapt to the foreign climate the most.

The full draw and list of results can be viewed by clicking here.

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