John Higgins hopes giving up booze can help him return to winning ways
The Wishaw potter has not lifted a trophy since the 2018 Welsh Open but kept his Scottish Open hopes alive after battling from behind against Sohail Vahedi.
The tournament is being played in exile, at snooker’s bio-secure bubble in Milton Keynes.
The four-time world champion trailed 3-1 but a roaring comeback against the Iranian, capped by a clutch break of 65 to level the scores, hauled him into the last 64.
Higgins, the world No 6, gave up drinking a year ago and hopes a healthier lifestyle away from the baize can reap its rewards back on it.
The 45-year-old said: “Going forward with different things, you’re getting a little bit older and you don’t know how long you’re going to have left here.
“It’s just something I consciously decided to do. I don’t know if it’s paying off, but you feel a bit better.
“I’ve not touched a drop, and I obviously don’t miss it just now with the way things are. With things that have happened, I just decided I was better off without it, and I certainly am.
“I’m delighted to still be in the tournament – I could have easily been out of the tournament and back up home tonight, so I’m delighted I’m still in it.
“I need to really improve, I know that, but there was a good clearance to keep me in it and it was good to win the last frame.
“You obviously need big clearances throughout the tournament. It was good to make it [the 65], but I need to find better form.
“You’re thinking it’s going to be a tough journey home [at 3-1 down], but thank God I’m not making it now.”
Vahedi raced into the lead after breaks of 54 and 52 but Higgins, who lost in the last 16 of the UK Championship against the precocious Zhou Yuelong, levelled after that gutsy half-century.
And the 30-time ranking event winner showed all his experience to knock in a seventh frame visit of 59 and edge over the line.
Higgins has shown signs of returning to his old trophy-lifting days this season but knows snooker has a habit of biting when you least expect it.
He’s not getting carried away on the Buckinghamshire baize but reckons that first-round win over Vahedi can bolster his confidence.
“It was tough – one minute you can be up in this game and the next you can be a little bit down on yourself after a couple of results,” he added.
“Hopefully that can perk me up and give me a bit of confidence going forward.”
Elsewhere, in the first-round, world No 17 Anthony McGill was stunned 4-2 by world No 55 Sam Craigie.
World Championship semi-finalist McGill struck two half-century breaks but four from the underdog ensured a maiden first-round defeat of the season.
Graeme Dott lost 4-0 to Robert Milkins, while Fraser Patrick was beaten by Chris Wakelin and Michael Collumb was unable to cause a shock against world No 16 Thepchaiya Un-Nooh.
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