2023 Cazoo World Championship | BBC & discovery+ | April 15 - May 1

Yuan Defeat Is New Low For Higgins

John Higgins’ poor run of form continued as he lost 5-4 to China’s 18-year-old Yuan Sijun in the last 32 of the D88.com German Masters.

All pictures by O.Behrendt / contrast

Last month, four-time World Champion Higgins admitted that this could be his last season, following a string of disappointing performances  and results. And today’s display in Berlin did nothing to lift his mood as he made numerous errors in losing to a player who was not even born when Higgins won his first world title in 1998.

The deciding frame came down to the last few balls and it was teenager Yuan who held his nerve to pot the crucial balls and set up a last 16 match with Duane Jones.

“I’m missing so many easy balls when it comes down to the crunch so I didn’t expect to win in the end,” said Scotland’s 43-year-old Higgins. “Even at 3-1 up, I knew if Yuan played decent he would come back into it. It’s tough.

“In the last frame I twitched a red in the middle bag, it was such a big twitch. If you can’t win a frame from that position then as I’ve said before it’s time to chuck it. I’d forgotten how tough it is to concentrate when you’re not playing great and not feeling great.”

Yuan, who reached the quarter-finals of the China Championship earlier this season, came from 3-1 down to win three frames in a row with breaks of 68, 54 and 51. Higgins found some fluency in frame eight with a run of 93, his highest of the match, to make it 4-4.

And Higgins looked favourite in the decider until he missed a red to a centre pocket on 43. Yuan replied with 47 before snookering himself on the final green, leading to a long tactical exchange on the colours. Eventually a loose safety from Higgins gave his opponent the chance to pot pink and black for victory.

Yuan said: “It’s my best win. I was nervous at the end but I potted some good balls. I am confident now.”

Mark Selby made three centuries – and came close to a 147 – as he beat Ricky Walden 5-1. Selby led 3-1 with a top run of 106 then in frame five he potted 15 reds with blacks before missing a tricky yellow along the baulk cushion on 120. Undeterred, he wrapped up the match in frame six with a 127.

“I played a good shot on the black to get on the yellow and I felt as if I’d make the 147 if I potted the yellow. It just wasn’t to be,” said Selby who won this tournament four years ago to become world number one, remaining there ever since.

Duane Jones reached reached the last 16 of a ranking event for the first time with a surprise 5-2 win over Jack Lisowski. Jones top scored with 129 in an impressive performance.

Ding Junhui came from 2-0 down to beat Fergal O’Brien 5-3 with a top break of 73 while Stuart Bingham made a 130 in a 5-2 defeat of Jimmy Robertson.

Xiao Guodong showed his break-building class as he made 66, 57, 105, 102 and 53 in a 5-1 defeat of Ryan Day. Neil Robertson was also a 5-1 winner, firing runs of 65, 60, 56 and 78 against Kurt Maflin.