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Vafaei Beats Higgins To Make Last 16

Iran’s Hossein Vafaei scored his first ever win over four-time World Champion John Higgins, emerging a 5-1 victor to guarantee progression from Group C at the Pathum Thani Six Red World Championship in Thailand.

The Prince of Persia had faced Higgins on four previous occasions and lost each time. However, this evening’s win sees Vafaei earn his slot in the last 16 and leaves Higgins’ qualification in doubt.

Scotland’s Higgins, who was runner-up in this event back in 2019, scored a 5-2 win over Ken Doherty earlier today to give himself a promising start. Tonight’s game didn’t go according to plan, despite crafting a fine 71 break in the second frame.

Higgins now finds himself in a straight shoot out with Thai amateur Poramin Danjirakul tomorrow. Danjarakul defeated Doherty 5-3 this evening to eliminate the Irishman.

Vafaei’s qualification comes due to the fact he also beat Danjarakul 5-2 earlier in the day. He will be hoping he can better his previous Six Red best of a quarter-final appearance in 2014. However, for now he is delighted to have beaten the legendary Higgins.

“In any match, it is difficult to beat someone like John Higgins. He is my hero. If I was struggling with my game, he would be the person I’d ask to help me,” said 28-year-old Vafaei.

“I’m happy with the way I performed. In six red snooker you have to play your own game. I am happy to get through. This is a good tournament to be involved with. It is such a great country, with great fans. It is always a pleasure to be in Thailand.”

Masters champion Judd Trump got off to a winning start with a 5-0 whitewash over Ricky Walden.

The Ace in the Pack is competing in the event for the first time since 2015, but quickly re-acclimatised to the shorter format of the sport.

Trump is aiming to build form with an important two months ahead. The 2019 World Champion needs a deep run at the upcoming WST Classic to stand a chance of earning a place at the Tour Championship, after which his attention will turn to bidding for a second world title at the Crucible.

Trump said: “The standard is incredibly tough and I think that is the case this season more than ever. It has been the widest open season heading into the World Championship. I know we say that all the time, but this one really is.

“There have been a lot of first time winners and a lot of people you don’t expect in the top events. There is carnage going on in the rankings at the moment and that makes for an interesting end of the season.”

Defending champion Stephen Maguire crashed out on day one. He suffered 5-2 defeats at the hands of China’s Ding Junhui and Zhang Anda to leave himself unable to qualify.

Ding and Zhang both also beat Thailand’s 2022 Women’s World Champion Mink Nutcharut 5-2 to ensure they progressed from the group.

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