John Higgins has spent the past ten days isolating in his bedroom in Wishaw, but made a successful return to the baize by beating Scott Donaldson in the first round of the BetVictor Shoot Out.
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Higgins tested positive for Covid-19 ahead of the BildBet German Masters and headed home to Scotland, but his isolation period finished just in time for him to return to Milton Keynes and compete in the Shoot Out for the first time since 2016.
His battle with Donaldson was a cagey affair and Higgins trailed by four points with just 80 seconds on the clock, but then knocked in a long red and made a break of 14 to book his second round place. The four-time World Champion will face 2019 Shoot Out king Thepchaiya Un-Nooh in the opening match on Saturday afternoon at 1pm.
“I’ve been in my room for the last ten days, with my wife and kids bringing me meals and cups of tea,” said Higgins. “I was looking forward to having a game of snooker even if it was just one frame. And it gave my mum something to watch on TV!”
Reanne Evans missed out on a second round spot
The most dramatic match of Friday evening was Liam Highfield’s last-gasp win over Rod Lawler. Highfield trailed 52-16 with just 78 seconds remaining, but potted the last three reds with colours then took yellow, green, brown, blue and pink for a fantastic 41 clearance to clinch a place in round two.
There are 14 amateurs among the 64 players remaining, including Ben Mertens, Sean Harvey, Kuldesh Johal, Hayden Pinhey and John Astley who all scored impressive wins in Friday’s second session.
Astley ended the hopes of 12-time World Women’s Champion Reanne Evans. Two breaks of 22 helped Astley to a 63-5 scoreline.