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Selby And Higgins Into Semis

Mark Selby remains on course to become the first player in 30 years to win the first two ranking titles of the season as he beat Zhou Yuelong 5-2 to reach the semi-finals of the Matchroom.Live English Open.

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John Higgins, chasing his first ranking title in 31 months, also eased into the last four as he saw off Jak Jones 5-1

Not since Stephen Hendry landed the first four ranking titles of the 1990/91 season has any player taken the first two. Having won last month’s BetVictor European Masters, Selby is the man in form and is just two wins away from another trophy. He will face Neil Robertson or Robbie Williams in the semi-finals on Saturday.

The Leicester cueman had won his previous three matches in Milton Keynes by a 4-3 scoreline, but today’s victory was more comfortable.

After sharing the first two frames, China’s Zhou made an excellent 51 clearance to lead 2-1. World number four Selby dominated the next two frames, making breaks of 72, 52 and 48 to lead 3-2.

Zhou had a chance to win frame six but missed a short range brown, from a tight angle, to a centre pocket when he trailed 43-34. He later played a loose safety on the brown and Selby punished him to go 4-2 ahead. The Englishman sealed the result in frame seven with a run of 56.

“I didn’t play great today but I’m happy to win,” said 37-year-old Selby. “The bit of luck you need seems to be with me this week. It would great to win the first two ranking events this season, the fact that it hasn’t been  done for 30 years shows how tough snooker is.”

Higgins ‘Desperate’ To End Drought

Four-time World Champion Higgins was far too strong for Jones, who was competing in the quarter-finals of a ranking event for the first time. World number seven Higgins now meets Judd Trump or Kyren Wilson.

Ferrule animal: Higgins recently switched from brass to titanium

Scotland’s Higgins won his 30th and most recent ranking title at the 2018 Welsh Open – though he has reached the World Championship final twice since then. Swapping to a titanium ferrule and a different brand of chalk has given him a fresh dose of enthusiasm and he has dropped just five frames in five matches so far this week.

“Jak struggled today and I picked up the pieces,”  said 45-year-old Higgins, through to his 74th ranking event semi-final. “I am desperate to win a tournament because for the last couple of years I’ve watched other players taking the trophies. I feel good about my game. If the ball is going where you want it to go, that’s half the battle.”