Masters Curse
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John Higgins Ends 2020 Masters Curse

John Higgins put a stop to a bizarre Masters curse as he became the first higher ranked player to progress to the last eight in London on Tuesday.

Masters Curse
Higgins was making his 26th consecutive appearance in a Masters. Photo credit: World Snooker Tour

The Scot was a comfortable winner as he easily outclassed Barry Hawkins with a 6-1 scoreline at the Alexandra Palace.

The 2020 Masters curse, as some pundits had started calling it, resulted in the first five matches having outcomes that favoured the lower ranked seed.

Five former champions – Ding Junhui, Mark Selby, Neil Robertson, Mark Allen, and 2019 winner Judd Trump – succumbed to the hoodoo over the course of the opening two and a half days.

Hawkins, though, never looked like joining his peers in the lower half of the top 16 in causing an upset.

The 2016 runner-up has openly admitted to a struggle for form and drive recently, and it was fully evident in a lacklustre display that his opponent took advantage of.

Higgins, twice a Masters champion but with a mediocre record overall in the event by his standards, reeled off the opening four frames with breaks of 57, 53, and 74.

It looked as though Hawkins might get on the scoreboard after the mid-session interval only for Higgins to pinch that one too on the black to lead 5-0.

The “Hawk” did subsequently protect against the embarrassment of a whitewash by compiling a decent run of 101.

However, that proved to be the penultimate frame as a 59 contribution from Higgins sealed the deal in the next.

The latter advances to the quarter-finals, where he’ll face Ali Carter, and Higgins must be considered as a real title contender with so many of his esteemed rivals already out.

Selby, Trump, and Ding were supposed to be threats in the top half of the draw but Higgins is arguably the favourite from that section to now reach the final.

The first round will conclude on Wednesday with the remaining two matches from the last 16 to be played.

Former runner-up Kyren Wilson meets Jack Lisowski in the afternoon session before an evening bout between two-time champion Mark Williams and Stuart Bingham.

Live coverage continues on the BBC and Eurosport.

Click here to view the draw (Times: CET)

Creator of SnookerHQ and a journalism graduate, David has been actively reporting on snooker since 2011. He has been published in national publications and has appeared on BBC World News and on talkSPORT radio as an analyst.

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World Rankings Top 16

World Rankings after the Tour Championship – won by Neil Robertson.

1. Judd Trump
2. Ronnie O’Sullivan
3. Neil Robertson
4. Mark Selby
5. John Higgins
6. Kyren Wilson
7. Shaun Murphy
8. Stephen Maguire
9. Ding Junhui
10. Yan Bingtao
11. Barry Hawkins
12. Mark Williams
13. Mark Allen
14. Jack Lisowski
15. David Gilbert
16. Anthony McGill

Fin Ruane Snooker Academy