John Higgins
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John Higgins will go to Sheffield to ‘give it a final go, maybe’

John Higgins left snooker fans wondering about life without the Scotsman after he teased his potential retirement on Monday.

The four-time world champion bowed out of the Tour Championship at the first hurdle, losing 10-7 in Manchester to Mark Allen.

Higgins made seven half-century contributions and was level at 6-6 heading into the last mid-session interval.

But Allen compiled a couple of centuries and a run of 93 as he took three of the last four frames for victory.

The Pistol is hoping to add to his tally of three titles from this term that already includes the Players Championship from this series of events based on the one-year rankings.

Yet the talk of the town afterwards surrounded comments Higgins made in his post-match interview live on television.

The 48 year-old, who has long been frustrated with his inability to translate form into more silverware, provided a cryptic clue that the end of his career might be near.

“I thought Mark played very well tonight,” John Higgins, the current world number 10, said on ITV.

“I should have been in front today, 4-4. Then I thought Mark played better tonight. I missed two or three unforgivable balls at this level, you cannot afford to miss.”

“My long game was really non-existent as well. At this level, it’s not good enough against the best players.

“I just need to dust myself down. [It’s] a couple of weeks before the Worlds. Try and get some good practice, and go there and give it a final go, maybe.”

Whether or not the final go he is referring to is a last attempt at landing a fifth Crucible crown remains to be seen.

Higgins has by no means been a spent force in recent times, frequently appearing at the latter stages of events throughout this season.

However, he has failed to add to his impressive tally of 31 ranking titles – good enough for third on the all-time list – since being crowned the 2021 Players Championship winner.

For someone who has been so used to having trophies in his cabinet, right from the very beginning of his career, the barren spell must be beyond frustrating.

Higgins memorably lost five finals – four of them in ranking events – during the 2021/22 campaign as he struggled to get over the winning line when seemingly in control of title-deciding showdowns.

That, of course, came shortly after he lost three World Championship finals in a row between 2017 and 2019.

Even someone as esteemed as the Wizard of Wishaw, who boasts almost 1,000 career centuries, will have mental bruises from so many painful reverses.

Bowing out at the top while still a member of the top 16 would be a stunning way to exit the sport, if that’s what he chooses.

But snooker players are no strangers to the threat of retirement, and it wouldn’t necessarily be a surprise if he backtracks on those comments later either.

Allen, meanwhile, will meet Ding Junhui in the quarter-finals of the Tour Championship – their opening session taking place on Wednesday evening.


2024 Tour Championship Draw

Round of 12

Mark Williams (8) 10-9 Tom Ford (9)

Mark Allen (5) 10-7 John Higgins (12)

Gary Wilson (6) 10-8 Mark Selby (11)

Barry Hawkins (7) 8-10 Ali Carter (10)

Quarter-Finals

Judd Trump (1) 4-10 Mark Williams (8)

Ding Junhui (4) 8-10 Mark Allen (5)

Zhang Anda (3) 8-10 Gary Wilson (6)

Ronnie O’Sullivan (2) 10-2 Ali Carter (10)

Semi-Finals

Mark Williams (8) 10-5 Mark Allen (5)

Gary Wilson (6) 7-10 Ronnie O’Sullivan (2)

Final (bo19).

Mark Williams (8) 10-5 Ronnie O’Sullivan (2)


Featured photo credit: WST

2 Comments

  1. Jay Brannon

    It will be very likely the emotion talking. Hendry did call it a day once he started having to qualify for events bit Higgins is playing to a higher level still. His top 16 place is under real threat now though.

  2. Yes, don’t attention to what players say in interviews after just losing a match.
    For an example of how a true professional manages retirement issues, read: https://www.eurosport.de/snooker/rolf-kalb-blog-eine-epoche-bei-eurosport-endet-kult-kommentator-geht-in-den-ruhestand_sto10087880/story.shtml. I think a lot of people could learn from that.

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