John Higgins is one victory away from a third final of the 2021/22 snooker season after hammering Ronnie O’Sullivan in the Champion of Champions on Thursday.
The Scot didn’t play particularly well against Ding Junhui in his first-round encounter but managed to fight back from 3-1 down to deny the out-of-form Chinese competitor in a decider.
Against his old nemesis O’Sullivan, Higgins produced a much more clinical display to send the three-time former champion crashing out at the quarter-final stage for the second successive year.
After Higgins won the opening two frames with breaks of 86 and 92, the Rocket responded with a trademark ton of 101 to reduce the gap.
It could very well have been all-square at the interval, but Higgins snatched the fourth on the black and produced a one-man performance after the break to power through in Bolton with further contributions of 127, 94, and 63.
The Wizard of Wishaw is looked for the perfect response to feeling downbeat following back-to-back defeats in ranking event finals this campaign.
“It was just my night really,” Higgins said soon after completing a fourth victory over O’Sullivan in his last five fixtures with the six-time world champion.
“The fourth frame was a massive frame. We had done three one-visit frames for the first three, and then I managed to nick a frame to go 3-1.”
“That was a big frame, and then I came out after the interval and didn’t really miss much, I didn’t really give him a lot of chances.
“Ronnie missed a couple that he’d normally never miss, but yeah I’m delighted with the way that I hit the ball.
“This afternoon, I felt as if I was just falling onto the table, and I was all at sea with the measurements and different things. Tonight, I tried to get down and slide into the shot, and I think it maybe helped me a little bit.”
John Higgins will face Yan Bingtao for a berth in Sunday’s final, and the Scot has good recent memories of playing the Chinese cueist after victories over the 21 year-old in both the Northern Ireland and English Opens of late.
“The last two I have (had the better of Yan), but before that he really had the better of me. He’s a brilliant young talent, a brilliant young player, and a brilliant young champion.”
“He’s won some big events, but I’m feeling confident with my game so I’ll go in and hopefully give him a good game on Saturday night.
“I think I’m hitting it pretty well, I was maybe a little bit too critical after my last final but that’s sometimes in the heat of the moment.
“Deep down, you maybe don’t know if you can get over the winning line, who knows, but I’d love to give myself another chance this weekend.”
Before Higgins entertains Yan in the second semi-final, the first clash from the penultimate round will take place on Friday evening between Judd Trump and Kyren Wilson.
Live coverage of the Champion of Champions is available on ITV4 in Ireland and the UK, with other options on offer for broadcasts around the world.
|Judd Trump||vs||Kyren Wilson|
|John Higgins||vs||Yan Bingtao|
Featured photo credit: @ChampofChamps