JOHN Higgins had to call on all of his vast reserves of experience as he put an end to his poor recent record in the Masters to secure a quarter-final spot at the expense of Ali Carter at Alexandra Palace.
The 37-year-old Scot wasted two good chances in the opening two frames, only to see Carter punish him on both occasions and race into a 2-0 lead in double quick time, but the four-time world champion showed all of his grit and resolve to grab four frames on the spin and eventually wrap up a 6-3 victory. A two-time former Masters winner, Higgins has something of a love-hate relationship with the tournament after also tasting ten first-round exits in his illustrious career. And the ‘Wizard of Wishaw’ admits he feared the worst in the early exchanges before battling back and sealing his berth in the next round.
“I’m really happy to win considering the way the match started,” he said. “It could have really set me back but I stayed with it. The way I lost those first two frames meant I knew I was playing pretty well, I just made mistakes at the key moments. Over the years I have been able to put mistakes behind me, but it’s still very tough when you have been losing frames like that. But I felt good about my game and luckily I managed to turn it around and take my chances in the subsequent frames. You have to be careful, it’s a mental game and if you let things like the first two frames get you down you might as well just throw your cue into the crowd. Overall I’m pleased with how I played.”
Higgins faces either Shaun Murphy or Ricky Walden in the quarter-finals. “Despite the snow the atmosphere was good out there,” he added. “I much prefer the crowds here at the Ally Pally to Wembley where the tournament was before and I hope I can be here for the week.
“I won’t play again until Thursday, but both Shaun and Ricky are very good players, Shaun will start as favourite and beat me in the semis here last year so it will be very tough.”
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