John Higgins outplayed Ronnie O’Sullivan in a battle of two of snooker’s all-time greats, winning 5-2 to book a semi-final spot at the Coral Scottish Open.
Home favourite Higgins is now just two wins away from claiming the 29th world ranking title of his career, which would put him ahead of Steve Davis and O’Sullivan on the all-time list, behind only Stephen Hendry.
If Wishaw’s 41-year-old Higgins does go on to take the title and £70,000 top prize in Glasgow it would also be his third piece of silverware in the past six weeks having won the China Championship and Champion of Champions. His next opponent in the semi-finals at 1pm on Saturday will be Judd Trump (tickets still available, click here for details) who beat Robert Milkins 5-3.
Higgins took a scrappy opening frame today then went 2-0 up with a break of 88. He dominated the third as well and might have gone 4-0 ahead but missed the final green with the rest late in the fourth. In the end it came down to a safety battle on the pink and O’Sullivan doubled it to a centre pocket to raise hopes of a fight-back.
But after the interval Higgins regained control, getting the better of a fragmented fifth to lead 4-1. O’Sullivan made 41 in the next before missing the black off its spot, but he got another chance and added 37 to pull one back. In frame seven, Higgins made 28 before running out of position, but a missed long red from O’Sullivan proved his last shot as his opponent finished in style with a run of 104.
“Any time you beat Ronnie it’s a special result, even though he didn’t play anywhere near his best,” said world number three Higgins. “He gave me a few chances too many. It will be another tough game whoever I play tomorrow. It’s great to be able to play here in front of my friends and family.”
O’Sullivan said: “John played really well, his all round game was strong. He’s a class act and very difficult to break down. You always have to feel you can get back into it otherwise there’s no point, but when he’s playing like that he’ll win a lot of tournaments. I’ve had a fantastic week and really enjoyed it. I love my Eurosport work and it means I can’t always prepare as well and focus on tournaments, but it’s the best option for me.”
Trump beat 5-1 Higgins when they met in the quarter-finals of the Coral English Open two months ago and will hope for another victory tomorrow as he chases his third ranking title of 2016.
The 27-year-old from Bristol shared the first six frames against Milkins, with a 58 from Trump in the third the highest break. Six-time ranking event winner Trump then dominated the seventh to go 4-3 ahead before sealing the result in the next with a run of 78.
“I have scrapped through the last couple of rounds so it’s good to still be in the tournament,” said world number four Trump. “To play John in front of a big crowd tomorrow is the type of occasion I play snooker for. I think there will be a lot of breaks and high scoring tomorrow. John is probably the best in the world at the moment alongside Mark Selby. But I always fancy my chances when I play him.”