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Higgins Steps Up World Grand Prix Bid

John Higgins progressed to the last 32 of the BetVictor English Open with a 4-1 victory over Mark King, and needs four more wins to earn a spot in next month’s World Grand Prix.

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A poor start to the season left Higgins in 75th place on the one-year ranking list going into this week’s event in Brentwood. The four-time World Champion must reach the final, worth £35,000, to move into the top 32 and secure a place in January’s World Grand Prix, the first of three events in the Players Series. For updates on that race click here.

The Scot fired breaks of 85 and 103 in taking a 3-0 lead over King, who was playing on home turf in Essex. King at least gave his fans something to cheer in frame four when he recovered a 62-10 deficit to make an excellent 55 clearance. But Higgins ended any chance of a fight back with a run of 74 in frame five.

“I could tell Mark was a bit edgy because he had a lot of friends and family here,” said Higgins, who will reach the last 16 of a ranking event for the first time this season if he can beat Robert Milkins on Wednesday evening. “He’ll be disappointed because he let me off the hook a few times. In the last frame I potted a good red and made a nice break.

“I would love to take the chance to get into the World Grand Prix but it will be very difficult. The game is not as easy as some of the boys make it look. If I don’t make it, then I don’t deserve to be there, I will only have myself to blame. It’s the form players that deserve to be there.

“In the last few days I have been practising with Anthony McGill, he has been hitting the ball like a dream so I’m just trying to feed off him, I have been losing a few fivers to him but it has sharpened me up.”

BetVictor Scottish Open champion Gary Wilson saw his hot streak end with a 4-2 reverse against against Martin Gould. Wilson made breaks of 51, 68, 81 and 54 yet only won two frames against Gould, who fired runs of 82, 118 and 128.

Mark Allen, player of the season so far with the Northern Ireland Open and UK Championship trophies under his belt, saw off Dylan Emery 4-1. The Pistol opened with a break of 135 then followed up with a 141 total clearance, the joint-highest break of the tournament so far. Two more runs of 55 helped Allen take the two further frames he needed. The world number five now meets Ding Junhui in a repeat of last month’s UK Championship final, which Allen won 10-7.

“You have to make the most of it while you are in good form,” Allen told Eurosport. “The first couple of frames today were as good as I have played all season. I want to be a winner of multiple titles every season, not just a flash in the pan. But you can’t play well all of the time, you need a B game as well.”

Kyren Wilson top scored with 83 in a 4-0 defeat of Ben Woollaston while Ali Carter, from nearby Chelmsford, saw off Chen Zifan by the same scoreline.

Scott Donaldson made a 128 in a 4-2 success against Mark Davis. British Open champion Ryan Day made a tremendous 57 clearance in the decider to beat Hammad Miah 4-3.