'I've not got it' - devastated John Higgins questions his credentials after tough final loss to Neil Robertson
A devastated John Higgins suffered more heartbreak in a snooker final after Neil Robertson battled back from 8-6 down to win the English Open title in Milton Keynes.
For the second final in succession, Higgins lost the last three frames after suffering an identical 9-8 loss in last month's Northern Ireland Open final against Mark Allen.
Higgins had the first chance in the decider but beached on 22 when he over-cut a red, and Robertson shrugged off his earlier inconsistency to win the match with a break of 65.
Robertson, who lost last year's final in a deciding frame to Judd Trump, said: "I found something from somewhere, and I played my best snooker towards the end of the match."
Higgins was left reeling by the manner of the defeat and questioned whether he was able to compete at this level.
In an emotional post-match interview, he said: “I think this afternoon I was a little bit tired, But Neil made me tired. I felt like I was Mowgli out of the Jungle Book, with the snake putting you to sleep.
“He’s such an unbelievable player and I was actually nearly sleeping, just the way he was continually banging the back of the pockets.
“I went back to the room, had an hour’s sleep, I woke up, didn’t know where I was… and then I felt a wee bit more energised and tonight I came out and played pretty well.
“But I think the last two finals show I’ve not really got it at this level. I’ve not got it.”
Higgins had seized command of the final by winning the first four frames of the evening session and converting a 5-3 deficit into a 7-5 lead.
The Australian fired two centuries, including a 140 in the fifth frame, as he looked on course to land his 21st career ranking title.
But Higgins, who won the last three frames of his semi-final to sink Ronnie O'Sullivan, was far from finished and he got the better of four attritional opening frames of the evening session to take control.
The mid-session interval could not have come at a better time for the Australian, who looked entirely out of sorts, and he duly returned to stop the rot, capitalising on a Higgins in-off to reduce the deficit to 6-7.
A 55 helped Higgins move one frame from victory but Robinson clawed back with a half-century of his own, then delivered a brilliant 120 clearance to force the decider and ultimately seal victory.
Ronnie O’Sullivan, who Higgins defeated in the semi-final, said that the Scot’s defeat was not down to a lack of bottle.
“I don’t think John bottled it tonight,” O’Sullivan said. “He’s just not that type of player. He just happened to miss the balls. Twitching and missing are two totally different things, and that’s enough at this level. Robertson is always clinical enough and give him half-a-chance, he was in the with a good last frame.
“Sometimes what it is is that a good young one will always beat a good old one. It wasn’t a bottle thing, you get a bit older and sometimes you miss some clutch balls.”