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Marvellous McGill Knocks Out Higgins

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Anthony McGill scored the best result of his career so far by winning a tartan tussle against John Higgins 6-5 to reach the quarter-finals of the Coral UK Championship.

PICTURES by Tai Chengzhe

By Mark Rawlinson

Glasgow’s McGill, regarded as one of the brightest young talents in Scottish snooker, beat the four-time World and three-time UK Champion, who had been his boyhood idol as a child.

McGill was put under pressure as Higgins battled back from 4-1 down to force a decider, but held his nerve to knock in the final red and clear to the blue to secure a spot in the quarter-finals.

The 23-year-old has been a professional since 2010 and has steadily climbed to world number 38 ahead of this tournament. He reached the quarters of last season’s Indian Open but today’s victory is his most lucrative of his career, bagging a minimum of £20,000 plus a final eight clash with either Ronnie O’Sullivan or Matt Selt.

Despite an early setback in losing the first frame, McGill clinched the next four without reply, with top runs of 67 and 40 to go 4-1 ahead. Higgins won the next two but McGill clinched the eighth with a break of 39 to make it 5-3.

Higgins took the ninth with a break of 69, then a brilliantly compiled 129 clearance in the tenth frame forced a decider.

Both players had chances and it was McGill who had the slender 45-39 advantage on the final red. Higgins over-cut an attempted pot to a baulk corner, and McGill’s excellent pot on the red set up the winning break.

“It’s definitely the biggest result of my career,” said McGill. “There was a good crowd in and because the other match finished quickly, we had the whole arena to ourselves for most of the match. I thought I held myself together in the decider. I twitched a few – but who hasn’t?

“In the deciding frame, regardless of what’s gone before, both players are going to be feeling it. I just didn’t want to give him a chance right away. I potted some good balls.

“I got some luck today because John gave me a lot of chances and he doesn’t usually do that. It was half a fluke and half a good performance.”

Higgins believes his opponent will be a future Scottish star. “He played better than me and made a good clearance at the end so there are no complaints,” he said.

“You can tell he’s going to do well – he missed a couple but he looked really composed. He’s got a good head on his shoulders and it’s good for Scotland.”

Stuart Bingham is also through to the last eight following a comfortable 6-0 win over a struggling Ricky Walden.

Bingham had laboured his way over the line during his last 32 clash with Joel Walker yesterday but after some hard work on the practice table, he breezed his way to victory today.

Walden had looked in top form last time out as he knocked in two big centuries on course to defeating Ken Doherty, but the recent International Championship winner had a bad day at the office.

Bingham, a semi-finalist here last year, made a great start to the match with breaks of 73 and 67 putting him 2-0 up. He then took the next two frames on the colours before wrapping up victory with runs of 40 and 41 in the next two frames.

“I was on the practice table this morning before I went out because I just wasn’t happy about how I was hitting the ball,” said world number nine Bingham. “When I got out there I just relaxed and took my chances.

“We went out for a meal last night and I was a bit doom and gloom really, but I had a chat with my coach Steve Feeney and he got me in good frame of mind just before I went out.

“I think it was one of those games for Ricky – potting some good balls but landing on nothing. Any time you beat Ricky it’s a good win.

“I played him in the Champion of Champions last year and beat him 4-0 and the same sort of thing happened – everything he was doing was going wrong and everything I was doing was going right.

“I still need to improve even though I won 6-0. I’ve got a day off now and I’ll be on the practice table.”