John Higgins shrugged off the effects of a rib injury as he eased to a 4-0 win over Michael Holt in the last 32 of the European Masters.
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Snooker’s first ever pro tournament in Romania got underway today in Bucharest and four-time World Champion Higgins was among the early winners as he took just 68 minutes to beat Holt, making top breaks of 118 and 104, and set up a last 16 clash with Tom Ford.
Wishaw’s Higgins broke a rib on his right side six weeks ago. “I was playing football with my lad in the garden, he shoulder charged me into a wall and I felt it go straight away,” said the world number five. “I didn’t pick up a cue for a while and I wasn’t sure whether I could play in the Shanghai Masters, though in the end I was able to go.
“There’s not much you can do about it, you just have to take painkillers and wait for it to heal. It’s still sore and I can’t sleep on my right side. So it’s still affecting my game a bit but it is gradually healing which is good because we have a lot of tournaments coming up.
“The second frame was the turning point, Michael missed the yellow when he had a chance to go 1-1. If he had won that frame he would have fancied winning. He has been one of the form players over the last few months. In the other frames I played well and made some good breaks.
“I was 3-0 down to Jimmy Robertson in the qualifying round but managed to come back to win 4-3. I was really pleased because it’s good to come to new countries for the first time. It’s a great arena here and hopefully the crowds will grow during the week.”
Neil Robertson also impressed in a high quality contest against Graeme Dott, winning 4-2. World number seven Robertson cleared with 71 to win the opening frame before Dott responded with a 73 clearance to take the second. A 29 clearance gave Australia’s Robertson the third and a run of 70 helped him go 3-1 ahead. Dott pulled one back with an 87 before Robertson sealed victory in the sixth with a 112.
“It was a crazy match with a lot of big breaks – it could have gone either way so I’m happy to win,” said Robertson, who started this season by winning the Riga Masters. “My flight was delayed last night so I didn’t arrive in Bucharest until 2.30am which is not ideal preparation, so it’s a relief to get through the first round.
“The venue here is amazing, there are very few like this where the seats go nearly all the way around. It’s the kind of arena the top players love, and the playing conditions today are very good.”
Indian Open champion Anthony McGill edged out Ali Carter 4-3. From 3-2 down, McGill made a 107 to square the match, then he got the better of the decider after Carter made a safety error on the last red, leaving it over a top corner pocket.
Tom Ford beat Robin Hull 4-1 with a top break of 55 while Barry Hawkins narrowly avoided a surprise defeat against Michael Wild. Hawkins trailed 3-2 but won frame six with a break of 93 then took a tense decider by clearing from green to black.
Andrew Higginson saw off Marco Fu 4-0 with top breaks of 70 and 61.