John Higgins is into the final of the Australian Goldfields Open after a remarkable comeback against Jamie Jones in Bendigo.
The Scot was heavy favourite going into the contest against a young Welshman making his debut at the last four stage of a ranking event.
But it was Jones who looked the more supremely confident early on and Higgins who struggled to find any rhythm as the tournament went down to the single table set-up in front of the biggest crowd of the week so far.
Higgins’ play was so poor that at one point in the opening four frames he was hovering around the 70% pot success mark, and Jones gratefully capitalised with breaks of 78, 51 and 96 to take a surprising 4-0 advantage into the interval.
However, it was never going to be easy for the inexperienced 27 year-old to get over the winning line, especially with the magic number extended to six frames for the semi-final.
And a more purposeful Higgins came out after the restart.
Once the four-time world champion got his name on the scoreboard his confidence visibly grew and a superb 134 in the sixth frame got him to within two frames, before an 89 reduced his arrears to just one.
Jones, suffering from being resigned to his chair for long periods, missed a succession of guilt-edged chances in the eighth frame as he began to feel the pressure, and Higgins cleared to the pink with a 45 to draw level.
By now, Higgins had improved his pot success rate to 91% and that improved further following a magnificent 133 total clearance, which included some brilliant shots, which sent him surging into the lead for the first time.
Jones had twice come from two frames down with three to play earlier in the tournament, but he wasn’t able to get to the table in the tenth frame as Higgins, buoyed by an outrageous fluked blue which he claimed was one of the biggest in his career, compiled a run of 92 to complete a terrific fight back
It’s tough on Jones, who didn’t do a lot wrong but will rue a couple of missed blues while in among the balls in the eighth frame when still ahead..
It ended up being a typical Higgins performance, though, as he reaches his 42nd ranking event final – his first Down Under – and he’ll bid for his 27th title on Sunday, which would equal Ronnie O’Sullivan at third on the all-time list.
The 40 year-old will either play countryman Stephen Maguire, who he partnered in the World Cup final defeat to China a fortnight ago, or England’s Martin Gould in the final.
That second semi-final takes place later on Saturday.
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