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Milkins Beats Higgins In Bendigo

It was a bad day for the Scots at the Australian Goldfields Open on Tuesday as John Higgins, Stephen Maguire and Scott Donaldson were all left facing the long flight back to the UK.

Four-time World Champion Higgins lost 5-2 to Rob Milkins in the last 16 of the world ranking event in Bendigo. Higgins started strongly with a break of 127 in the opening frame, but Gloucester’s Milkins reeled off the next four with top runs of 57 and 107. Higgins pulled one back with a 66 before Milkins sealed victory by potting pink and black in frame seven.

“I always seem to play well against John, maybe because I know how good he is,” said Milkins. “I can accept it when he’s potting balls, whereas against other players if I’m losing I sometimes get down on myself. If he had won the seventh frame he could have come back at me so I was pleased to finish it off.”

Maguire was on the wrong end of a 5-0 scoreline against Welshman Jamie Jones, whose top breaks were 76 and 61.

“I knew it was a tough draw against Stephen,” said 2012 World Championship quarter-finalist Jones. “In the first frame I missed a red and left him in the balls, but then he missed a similar red and I capitalised. That seemed to change the game and I went on from there. I played very well and he couldn’t seem to get going. I felt as if I was in control right the way through.”

Stuart Bingham made a 102 in a 5-0 defeat of Donaldson while Matthew Stevens beat Fergal O’Brien 5-2, pulling away from 2-2 to win the last three frames with a top run of 105.

“I felt pretty good considering that I haven’t played much leading up to this tournament,” said former UK and Masters champion Stevens. “The table was beautiful and the conditions always seem to be good here.”

Mark Davis made a 139 in a 5-3 victory over Dominic Dale while China’s Xiao Guodong top scored with 71 in a 5-2 win over Liam Highfield.

Xiao said: “I’ve decided to compete in every tournament this season and I’m trying my best to get into the top 16. That makes every tournament important to me. I lost my first round match twice in two previous visits here and that wasn’t pleasing. This time I hope to play one match at a time and do better.

“It’s a bit surprising but of course encouraging to compete in a tournament as a (top 16) seeded player. I think my game is already there but I need more experience. I wasn’t playing at my best today but I was playing very patiently. Liam took the lead at 2-1 then I managed to take back the advantage with my safety. It was a tough match overall but I took my chances to win in the end.

“I’ve played Liam many times so I guess he’s getting a bit sick of facing me, because I’ve won almost all the close ones. I was trailing 3-1 in Wuxi but managed to win 5-4. I think I’m playing with a better mindset now.”