Entertainer John Higgins toasted one of his finest ever victories after serving up a Friday night treat against Ronnie O’Sullivan in the Masters quarter-finals, writes Will Jennings.
The Wizard of Wishaw had urged fans to order beers and Chinese takeaways to enjoy the occasion – and delivered in style as he blew the Rocket away 6-3 with a stunning performance in Milton Keynes.
In an exhibition in break-building brilliance, the four-time world champion struck visits of 145, 134, 110 and 88 to repel O’Sullivan’s 125, 103 and 97 and leave him just two wins away from a first tournament title since 2018.
Higgins, 45, will now face world No.13 David Gilbert in a repeat of the 2019 World Championship semi-final and said: “It’s got to be one of my best wins ever.
“I felt in total control for most of the game and it was a brilliant match. I’m over the moon with the way I played.
“It must be right up there and I can’t really play any better than that. I’m just delighted to bring it out against one of the best players – that’s what you’re always judging your own game on.
“You want to know how you can do against the real top players, and I’m delighted that I brought my game tonight against Ronnie.
“I was just concentrating on each ball and wasn’t thinking about century breaks. I was just trying to get frames won as quickly as possible.
“Every time you play against Ronnie and the other top boys, [Judd] Trump, [Neil] Robertson and [Mark] Selby, they’re all massive games.
“But you’re playing the world champion and probably the best player ever so you’ve got to bring you’re A-game or you’ll lose.”
Higgins, the world No.6, had billed the contest up as a classic and it certainly did not disappoint under the Marshall Arena lights.
The match marked a repeat of a 2006 Masters final thriller and Higgins rolled back the years to emulate his heroics seen during that famous 10-9 victory.
The pair rattled off five consecutive centuries between them and despite six-time Crucible king O’Sullivan levelling at 3-3, Higgins accelerated towards the finish line in stunning fashion.
And his mesmerising third frame 145 marked the fourth highest break in Masters history as Higgins snatched the £15,000 prize for the tournament's highest break away from Yan Bingtao.
Chinese was Higgins’ suggested cuisine of choice for the Friday night classic but he offered an alternative option for his Saturday showdown against Gilbert.
The 30-time ranking event winner, who beat Gilbert 17-16 in a Sheffield epic two years ago, added: “Get the fish and chips, get the haggis suppers, or an Indian.
“I hope that people who were watching tonight enjoyed it. It was a good high-quality game and a good game to be involved in.
“The game’s finished with now and it’s just trying to get myself ready. I’ve played Dave a couple of years ago in the world semi-finals, a massive game.
“He’s played great this week and revels in the big events. He’s looking for his first [ranking event] win, and it’s another massive game for the two of us.”
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