Marco Fu Sinks The Milkman | International Championship Qualifiers

Higgins Reaches Fifth Masters Final

John Higgins is through to the Betfred Masters final after a 6-4 defeat of David Gilbert in Milton Keynes.

Scotland’s two-time Masters winner Higgins hasn’t appeared in the final since he won the title in 2006, when he defeated Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-9 in an epic clash at the Wembley Conference Centre.

Higgins’ path to the title match this year has seen him beat Mark Allen 6-5, before defeating O’Sullivan 6-3 in a classic quarter-final and seeing off Gilbert this evening. He will now face Yan Bingtao over the best of 19 frames, with a £250,000 top prize and the Paul Hunter Trophy up for grabs.

Higgins, a four-time World Champion, last lifted Triple Crown silverware at the 2011 World Championship and his most recent major individual title came at the 2018 Welsh Open.

For the second year in a row, Gilbert will have to settle for exiting at the semi-final stage. He reached the last four on his debut 12 months ago, where he was beaten by eventual winner Stuart Bingham.

This evening’s encounter got off to a high quality start, with Gilbert composing a break of 80 to claim the opener. Higgins replied with a century break of 106 to draw level at 1-1.

Gilbert regained the lead thanks to a break of 86, but Higgins responded to restore parity and head into the mid-session locked together at 2-2.

When they returned, breaks of 107 and 55 saw Higgins assume control and make it 4-2. However, Gilbert refused to wilt and claimed a hard fought seventh frame to claw back within one.

The Tamworth cueman then edged a dramatic eighth, he fired in a superb long range pink and deposited the black to make it 4-4.

Higgins moved one from the win after crafting a run of 56 in the following frame, before taking a tense 31-minute tenth to secure his place in the final.

“I’ve never enjoyed semi-finals. They are the worst games. You are so close to being in a big final. I’m over the moon to beat Dave,” said 45-year-old Higgins. “It would probably be one of my best ever wins, to win the Masters at this age. I will go in and enjoy it tomorrow and give it my best.

“Yan has a great all round game. He and Zhou Yuelong have the best all round games coming through from China. I think Yan believes he can win the event. He’s served his apprenticeship. He’s thinking he can win, I think I can win, so hopefully it will be a good match.

“I watched the UK Championship final between Judd and Neil. You are obviously a little bit jealous, because these guys are competing for the big events. To be honest I maybe wasn’t expecting to get to the final, but I went to the Championship League and played pretty well, it gave me a wee bit of extra confidence coming here. I’ll relish it tomorrow, I don’t know how many more big finals like this I’ll be in.”

Gilbert said: “I’ve got nothing but positives to take away. I didn’t know what would happen when I came here so I would have probably taken getting to the semi-finals. When you get here you want more. I am disappointed right now, I feel like I could have done a bit better.”