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Allen Beats Higgins To Reach Quarters


John Higgins made three centuries – including a 147 attempt – in the first round of the Dafabet Masters, but it wasn’t enough as he lost 6-4 to Mark Allen.

Rarely can a player have scored so heavily in losing. Higgins amassed a total of 668 points yet still finds himself on the long trip back from Alexandra Palace to Wishaw. Allen himself played some fine snooker in a high quality contest as he set up a quarter-final tie with Ding Junhui or Joe Perry. Northern Ireland’s Allen has reached the semi-finals of the Masters just once in six previous appearances, but will be confident of further progress this time.

Four-time World Champion Higgins started superbly with breaks of 104 and 132 to go 2-0 up. Allen responded with a century of his own, 121, then came from 59-0 down to snatch the fourth frame, clinching it with a 38 clearance.

A scrappy fifth went to Allen, then two-time Masters king Higgins made a 96 for 3-3, before Allen’s 88 saw him regain the lead. In the crucial eighth frame, Higgins led 67-7, but Allen clawed his way back and got the snooker he needed on the last red before dishing up to lead 5-3.

Frame nine saw Higgins pot 15 reds with blacks to reach 120, but he left himself a difficult yellow and rattled it in the jaws. Allen then sealed victory in the next with a run of 65.

Allen, who won the Paul Hunter Classic earlier in the season and finished runner-up in three other events, said: “The first two frames weren’t too enjoyable because my seat was very comfy. It was vintage John Higgins at the start and all the players know that on any given day he can turn up and do that. Then I stamped my authority on the match in the third frame – making a century put him on the back foot, and I won a good fourth frame. Then the eighth frame was a big turning point because if it had gone 4-4 it was anyone’s game.

“In the next frame I wanted him to make the 147, partly because he’s a nice guy but also because after the buzz he would get from a maximum, the next frame would have been an anti-climax for him and he might have been off guard. The fact that he made three centuries and I still won shows it’s a good win for me. I’m pleased to get through a match like that, because recently if people have played well against me I’ve lost.”

Asked about the banter between the two players during the match, Allen added: “People pay good money to watch us so it’s about going out there and putting on a show. There are too many players who are just out there to win and don’t care about anything else. Of course we want to win but there’s no harm in having a bit of fun out there, because we are playing the game that we love for a living and there are not many people fortunate enough to do that.”

Higgins said: “I should be sitting here gutted, but I’m actually happy with the way I played because I really enjoyed the game. Mark played very well and made a couple of pressure clearances which he always does. It must have been an enjoyable game to watch. I can take the positives out of it and hopefully if I play like that for the rest of the season my results will pick up.”

As for the 147 attempt, Higgins added: “I didn’t even realise I was on it because Mark had given away 14 points in fouls so it didn’t register when I looked at the scoreboard. I was just thinking about winning the frame, and it was only when I got to 64 I saw I was on a maximum. I felt calm and I fancied doing it, but I played a bad shot from black to yellow. I thought I’d hit the yellow well, but it wobbled in the jaws.”

And asked about his hopes of staying in the top 16 to avoid having to qualify for the World Championship, Higgins said: “That’s going to be an aim. If I miss out then I miss out but if I play like that for the second half of the season I should be ok.”