Scotland’s four-time Crucible king John Higgins defeated Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham 4-1 to seal his progression at the BetVictor Scottish Open.
Higgins is aiming to get his name on the Stephen Hendry Trophy for the first time this week. He appeared in the final of the inaugural event back in 2016, but fell short against Marco Fu.
The Glaswegian has shown fine form thus far this season. Trips to the finals of the BetVictor Northern Ireland Open, BetVictor English Open have seen him comfortably secure a place at next week’s World Grand Prix, although he is still yet to lift silverware this season. Higgins was also runner-up at the recent invitational Champion of Champions event.
Higgins was comfortable this afternoon against a surprisingly out of sorts opponent in Saengkham. The 31-time ranking event winner composed breaks of 53 and 92 on his way to victory and will face Ryan Day up next in the last 32.
Higgins said: “I’m really pleased with the win. Noppon has had my number the last few times we have played. All of the snooker boys know how good he is. He’s improving every year. He didn’t play anywhere near he could and gave me a pretty easy game today. I wasn’t expecting that. I’m pleased with the win.
“I would love to get a good run here and go directly from here to Coventry for the World Grand Prix. There would be nothing worse than losing here, going home and then having to go back down to Coventry. My aim is to try to have a good run here and have one last good push before Christmas at the World Grand Prix.”
Ronnie O’Sullivan booked his place in the last 16 with a thrilling 4-3 win over China’s Liang Wenbo to make the last 16 and book an encounter with Jamie Jones tomorrow evening.
The Rocket extends his head-to-head advantage over former English Open winner Liang to 9-1. Liang’s only ever win over 37-time ranking event winner O’Sullivan came back in 2013.
It was Liang who opened up a 2-1 lead early on in this encounter, before breaks of 95 and 131 saw O’Sullivan blitz to a 3-2 advantage. Liang restored parity with a sublime break of 128 and had the first opportunity in the decider. He broke down on 39 and 46-year-old O’Sullivan ruthlessly stepped up to fire in a match winning break of 90.
World Champion Mark Selby survived a Xiao Guodong fightback to earn his place in the last 16 with a 4-2 victory. Two breaks of 71 had helped Selby into a 3-0 lead before Xiao fought his way back into contention. However, Selby edged his way over the line by controlling the sixth frame.
Victory means defending champion Selby maintains his 100% Scottish Open record, having won the title in the only two years he had contested the event prior to this week. He now faces Scotland’s Anthony McGill, who beat Jimmy Robertson 4-3.
Judd Trump sealed his progression with a quick-fire 4-0 win over Craig Steadman. The Ace in the Pack composed breaks of 105, 52, 80 and 104 during the 42-minute match. He now plays David Lilley in the last 32.
Li Hang scored a 4-2 win over Shaun Murphy to end the 2005 World Champion’s hopes of World Grand Prix qualification.
Only the top 32 on this season’s one-year list will gain a place for the Coventry event. Li retains an outside chance of sealing a spot after today’s victory. He faces Hossein Vafaei next.
Hammad Miah landed a surprise 4-1 win against Masters champion Yan Bingtao, while Martin Gould edged out Jordan Brown 4-3.