Jubilant Jones Ousts Higgins

Jamie Jones came from 3-1 down to beat John Higgins 4-3 in the first round of the Players Tour Championship Grand Finals in Galway.

The encounter was a fantastic affair – not always of the highest quality but enriched with a selection of big breaks, unexpected misses and an array of twists and turns.

Higgins took an elongated opener in which both players had numerous chances but Jones the most clear-cut and one would have forgiven him if he let his head drop following a 46-minute battle.

However, the Welshman, who is widely regarded as being one of he future stars in the game, recorded a 78 to level the match.

Higgins responded with a 123 and forged further ahead when Jones missed a guilt-edged pink while on a clearance to square the clash for a second time.

But Jones appears to have built on the confident displays in the qualifying cubicles this season and clearly has a temperament of a player that could enjoy a successful career.

A pair of 65 breaks sandwiched a scrappy sixth that force the decider and the 24 year-old punched the air in delight at what is surely his greatest professional triumph to date.

For Higgins, it is yet another surprising loss in a season that has added very little to his impressive CV.

The Scot appears uncharacteristically shaky while in winning positions – something we wouldn’t have dreamt about saying this time last year.

With only the China Open left before Sheffield next month it seems unlikely that Higgins will be lifting the world title for a fifth time.

Elsewhere, Ding Junhui compiled back-to-back century breaks on his way to beating Ben Woollaston 4-2 while Stephen Lee overcame Michael Holt 4-1 in the first of the last 16 ties.

That match turned in the fourth frame when Holt failed to complete a frame winning break on 62, allowing Lee in to steal on the black with a composed 58.

The world number 11 took the next to seal victory and has now reached the quarter-final stage or better in each of the last four ranking events.

Australian Neil Robertson beat Jack Lisowski 4-1 and Joe Perry edged Graeme Dott 4-2.

Crowds improved on the second day at the Bailey Allen Hall and the level of support is sure to rise again tomorrow with Judd Trump and Ronnie O’Sullivan in action.

It must be noted that the arena is excellent. It may not be as big as some of the others but the fact there is very little space left unused ensures that there should be a cauldron atmosphere when there’s a full house (hopefully) over the coming days

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

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