China’s Ding reached the final of the World Grand Prix last week, but he failed to get beyond the last 64 in Cardiff as world number 69 Highfield went through to a meeting with Chris Wakelin. Stoke’s Highfield won the opening frame with a break of 62, and after Ding had levelled, he took the next three on the colours.
“It’s always a good win to take a big scalp,” said Highfield. “I’m not one to be scared of the top players because I know that my game in practice can be as good as theirs.”
Highfield, age 27, suffers from Crohn’s Disease and missed two tournaments at the start of the season while receiving treatment in hospital for several weeks. “When I came out in September my goal was just to be healthy in time for the UK Championship,” he said. “I managed to recover quicker than expected and got to the quarter-finals of the Indian Open. It’s something that is always on my mind and it puts snooker into perspective, having sat in hospital for a month.
“I have spoken to Ali Carter (who also has Crohn’s) a few times and it’s good to see that someone who has similar problems can still be an elite player. Sometimes you feel as if you have a handicap but Ali has been a top player for a long time while dealing with it so there is no excuse for me.”
Trump’s defeat to Thailand’s Saengkham followed recent reverses against Michael White in the first round of the World Grand Prix and to Jak Jones in the China Open qualifiers. Breaks of 98 and 80 helped world number 58 Saengkham earn a meeting with Craig Steadman.
Last year’s beaten finalist Trump said: “I got what I deserved, I played terrible in both of my games here. This is one of the tournaments I wanted to do well at, so it’s disappointing to lose. I tried until the end today but the confidence just wasn’t there.”