World Champion Stuart Bingham scored his best win of the season so far, beating John Higgins 6-3 to reach the last four of the Dafabet Masters.
It has been a patchy season for Bingham and he admits that the added expectation that comes with being World Champion is not easy to handle. He is yet to reach a final so far this term, but he will have a chance to make that breakthrough on Saturday at 7pm when he meets crowd favourite Ronnie O’Sullivan in an all-Essex clash. Tickets for that match at Alexandra Palace are still available, for details click here.
Bingham had never previously been beyond the first round of the Masters, but a first round win over Ding Junhui this week was followed by a fine victory over four-time World Champion Higgins. Taking a scalp of that calibre is bound to give the 39-year-old confidence ahead of his clash with tournament-favourite O’Sullivan.
Basildon’s Bingham won the opening frame tonight with an excellent 53 clearance, then Higgins levelled with a run of 60. The next two were shared to leave the score level at the interval.
Higgins looked set to win the fifth until he missed a red with the rest of 45 and his opponent stepped in with another cool clearance, this time 82. Frame six came down to the colours and Higgins was unlucky to go in-off when escaping from a snooker on the yellow, and Bingham took advantage to go 4-2 up.
A run of 70 from Bingham stretched his lead, then Higgins threatened a fight-back when he raced through frame seven with a 120. But a clever plant on a red early in the next from Bingham set him up for a break of 48, and he clinched the result after Higgins missed a long red.
A bad day at the office for Higgins
“John didn’t look himself tonight, he was shaking his head at the table and looking for problems,” said Bingham. “When it was 2-2 at the interval I wondered if I had missed my opportunity. I pulled out some good clearances and played well though I feel I’ve got a lot left in the tank.
“I’m really looking forward to tomorrow night. To play Ronnie in London in the semis of the Masters, that’s what you pick up a cue for. I know I can beat him in big matches. He looked good yesterday against Mark Selby so I’ve got to play ten times better, but I’ve got a chance and I’ll be out to enjoy it.”
Higgins said: “I was really bad. My concentration was poor. I made too many mistakes and Stuart just picked me off. I played some really bad positional shots and got punished for it.”