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White Edges Out Higgins In Preston
Michael White produced his best display of the season so far to see off four-time World Champion John Higgins 4-3 in the opening round of the Ladbrokes World Grand Prix in Preston.
Higgins has been one of the form players this campaign, having gained back-to-back tournament victories at the 2016 China Championship and Champion of Champions. However, 2015 Indian Open Champion White, who is on the hunt for his second ranking title, looked the sharper of the two players in this evening’s Guild Hall showdown.
The Welshman moved 2-1 ahead thanks to breaks of 55, 46 and 57, before Higgins restored parity with a contribution of 67.
The world number 23 White regained his advantage and looked set to clinch the win in a dramatic sixth frame. However, Higgins fought his way back from 64-4 down to take the frame down to the pink. The 25-year-old then missed a full blooded pot from long range and allowed the Scot force a decider.
White strung together 12 reds and 12 blacks in the final frame and had looked on to seal the match in the most emphatic fashion possible, but his attempt at a maximum break ended on 96 as he emerged a 4-3 victor.
“I’m thrilled with my performance,” said White. “I thought my temperament, safety and everything was first class. I’ve been practising like that all season but that is different from doing it on live TV. I had a great chance for a 147 but the main thing was I got the frame safe.
“I rate John as one of the best players of all-time. The guy is incredible. He is still winning tournaments and has been on top of the game for the last 20 years. Just to play someone like him is a privilege and to come out on top is pretty special.”
Judd Trump overcame an in-form Tom Ford to reach the last 16 thanks to a hard fought 4-2 victory.
Ford had defeated Trump 5-1 in qualifying for last week’s German Masters, where he went on to reach the last eight.
Trump is seeking to reclaim the title he won in 2015, which he clinched thanks to a superb win over Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final, where he came from 4-7 down to win 10-7.
Ford started the strongest, compiling a break of 87 to take the opener. Trump then levelled the match, before the Leicester potter took control once again with a century run of 102 to move 2-1 in front.
The six time ranking event winner Trump then started to impose himself on the tie. A sublime 145 break, his highest of the season so far, helped him to restore parity at 2-2. He then claimed the fifth frame, before making a clearance of 35 to steal the sixth on the black and run out a 4-2 victor.
“He started off very well, so I knew that I was going to have to up my game,” said the 2011 UK Champion Trump. “I made a good break of 145 and got some confidence from that. The closing frames got slightly scrappy but in the first round I was just pleased to get through.”
“It was disappointing [not to qualify for the German Masters]. I’ve been playing as well as ever in practice, so I think it’s just a case of waiting for it to come out on the match table. For me coming towards the end of the season now it would be nice to win another big event and get my confidence up for the World Championship.”
Barry Hawkins booked a last 16 clash with Trump after battling past Kyren Wilson 4-2 in a tense encounter.
Hawkins led 3-1 and looked set to wrap up the match before Wilson hit back with a break of 60 to steal the fifth frame on the black. The Warrior then had the next frame at his mercy, but missed a regulation pink to force a decider. Hawkins didn’t need a second chance and made pink and black to progress
Liang Wenbo wasted little time in dispatching Dominic Dale. The Firecracker shot to a 4-0 victory to cruise through to the last 16. Liang made a break of 92 in the second frame on his way to the whitewash.