JOHN Higgins admits he survived a considerable scare in his nervy first-round victory at the UK Championship, insisting he must improve if he’s to go the distance in York.
Higgins – who is joined in the last 16 by fellow Scots Stephen Maguire and Graeme Dott – saw off world No 29 Michael Holt 6-3, but had looked in danger of a shock with the score at 3-3 and “The Hitman” appearing dominant in the seventh frame.
However, the Nottingham potter let Higgins in and “The Wizard of Wishaw” ruthlessly made him pay before taking two more frames in quick succession to go through to the second round.
Four-time world champion Higgins now faces Mark Davis on Wednesday evening, and he will be searching for better form at the Barbican Centre.
“It was looking dodgy in the seventh frame when Michael could have cleared up and won that frame to make it 4-3,” admitted the 37-year-old, who is chasing his fourth UK Championship title.
“My head was getting scrambled, I was getting frustrated with myself and if it had gone 4-3 he would have probably gone on to win it.”
Meanwhile, Maguire and Dott showed contrasting form in their first-round matches.
Maguire, who won the competition in 2004, beat Ireland’s Fergal O’Brien 6-2, having been 2-1 down, while Dott had to dig deep to beat Englishman Martin Gould 6-5.
World No 1 Judd Trump saw his hopes of defending the title shattered by a first-round exit at the hands of Mark Joyce.
Trump led 5-2 and was seemingly heading for a comfortable win in the best-of-11 contest, but Walsall journeyman Joyce produced a startling fightback to win 6-5.
Trump’s concentration look-ed to slip and form certainly deserted him, with Joyce taking advantage.