Mark Allen scored a 6-3 win over John Higgins to reach the final of the Dafabet Masters for the first time.
Allen knocked out Ronnie O’Sullivan in the quarter-finals and scored another victory over one of snooker’s all time greats with a fine display tonight. He has now won all four of his Masters meetings with Higgins.
In Sunday’s best-of-19 final, Northern Ireland’s Allen will take on Kyren Wilson for the £200,000 top prize and the Paul Hunter Trophy. Both will be contesting their first Masters final, both aiming to win a Triple Crown event for the first time.
Allen struggled with his game for much of last season but has shown signs of a return to form in recent months, notably in a run to the final of the International Championship. This week in London has brought the best out of the 31-year-old from Antrim and he’ll be determined to win his first title since the 2016 Players Championship.
Scotland’s Higgins won the first frame of a high quality match tonight then world number eight Allen hit back to take the next three with top breaks of 63 and 90.
Two-time Masters champion Higgins took the next with a 131, the 700th century of his glittering career. But Allen bounced back with runs of 64 and 65 in the next two to go 5-2 up. A 127 from world number five Higgins, the 27th century of the tournament, saw him pull one back, but in frame nine Allen fired in a cracking long red and made 75 to seal the match.
“It’s two good wins for me, to beat Ronnie and John Higgins,” said Allen, whose only previous Triple Crown final was the 2011 UK Championship when he lost to Judd Trump. “I don’t want to get too excited because I still need to win ten more frames. My game is in good shape and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.
“I’ve never won a Triple Crown event but playing the best players does bring the best out of me. If you don’t play well you will lose so it takes the unknown away. It’s a new day and a different game tomorrow. I’ll have to control my emotions as I have all week. My safety has been good and I know I can score well.
“The long matches have momentum swings, hopefully I’ll be in control of them. It will be a dream come true for one of us tomorrow night, and completely devastating for the other. I see this as the biggest event after the World Championship, it was one of the ones I dreamed of winning when I was younger. If I win I’ll probably go ballistic and you might see me running around here with my top off! I just have to try to stay as calm as possible. My approach to the match will be no different, I always go for my shots. I have to go out there and play well, that’s the bottom line.”
Higgins said: “My tactical game was poor. I made some elementary mistakes and didn’t keep him close to the baulk cushion. He punished me – every credit to him because he played great. I think he’ll win the final, he’s had that look about him this week.”
The final starts at 1.30pm