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Ursenbacher Ready For Higgins Test

Switzerland’s number one Alexander Ursenbacher believes he will be a different player compared to previous meetings with four-time World Champion John Higgins when he lines up to face him at the British Open in Leicester next week.

Ursenbacher has struggled against his Scottish counterpart, trailing the head to head 4-0. However, they haven’t faced each other for two years and Ursenbacher believes he has improved the tactical areas of his game, having worked on his safety play over the last 12 months.

The 25-year-old from Basel has enjoyed strong results against other top players, including winning both of his previous clashes with Ronnie O’Sullivan. However, he has admitted that he believes the mentality of Higgins sets him apart as an opponent. Ursenbacher is now relishing testing himself against Higgins again.

Ursenbacher said: “John can have a bad day and still make two centuries and a couple of 50 breaks. With someone like Ronnie it is just a bit different, if he isn’t up for it then he won’t play very well. John is just not going to give up or show any weakness. That’s why I am really looking forward to playing him. In matches against people like John or Mark Selby you learn so much.

“I am an attacking player, but in the last six to 12 months, I’ve learned a bit about the tactical side of the game. Before, I didn’t really look at things properly. Now I have been working on my safety game it has made me realise how important it is. I’ve actually really enjoyed it. John is good at every single department in snooker. For me, looking at this side of the game, has made me see shots which I never did before. You are never going to win things without a safety game. I enjoy that part of snooker now.

“I am 100 percent a different player. These things that I have been working on have allowed me to think about and see the game differently. I know my B game and my focus is better. This best of five match might not provide enough time to find out how much I’ve improved, but it will be a good test for sure.”

Ursenbacher and Higgins will lock horns on Monday at 1pm and, for the former, it will be the first time he has competed in front of a crowd in over 19 months. He is relishing the occasion and believes that playing in centre stage brings out the best in him.

“I like to play on TV because you can’t afford to show your weaknesses. You are in the spotlight. You don’t want people to see that. I enjoy the challenge of that. I know I need to show what I have. It can make you nervous but at the same time it can make you calm. I have always been really up for those occasions.

“I’ve missed the fans a lot. I still remember being very sad making my Crucible debut without a crowd. It changes so much in the game. The first closed doors event sticks with me. It was so different. Normally with the people there you feel the tension. Now you know the cameras are there but it isn’t the same. We are going closer to normal and I just can’t wait. It will be like being in pre Covid times.”