John Higgins lived up to his billing as tournament favourite with a gritty 5-3 win over Tom Ford to book his place in the semi-finals of the Scottish Open.
Higgins has been scrapping for form for a couple of seasons – his two title wins since winning the Players Championship in February 2021 have come at the Championship League.
With Ronnie O’Sullivan withdrawing, Neil Robertson absent and the likes of Mark Selby, Mark Allen, Judd Trump and Mark Williams losing early, the event opened up nicely and Higgins is now two wins away from getting his hands on his home trophy.
O’Sullivan said in the Eurosport studio that the key for Higgins to get back to securing titles was to start winning while short of his best.
He delivered that type of display against Ford, as he started well, threatened to unravel before digging deep and getting over the line.
Higgins served notice of his intent with a glorious opening red, and he worked his way through a total clearance of 132 to take the opening frame with his first century of the week.
The Scot missed his first ball when on a break of 61 in the second frame, but it mattered little as he got back in again shortly afterwards to double his lead.
Ford finally got a chance to play his way into the game in the third, but missed a brown and Higgins stepped in with a run of 64 to power on.
The fourth should have gone Higgins’ way after a Ford error, but he missed an easy red by some distance and his opponent stepped in with 58 to get on the board at the interval.
Higgins has suffered a number of reverses from positions of strength in recent seasons, and Ford sensed his chance when the Scot missed a long red and left it over the yellow pocket in the fifth. A break of 56 enabled the Englishman to cut the deficit to one.
The rapid-fire nature of the contest continued in the sixth, as Ford drew level with a break of 99.
The contest turned extremely nervy in the seventh, as both players missed makeable balls by some distance. Ford’s poor effort at a green proved the costliest, as Higgins made 36 – despite never finding good position – to stop the bleeding and move back in front at 4-3.
After looking extremely fragile, Higgins regrouped and produced a fabulous break of 71 to close out the match and book his place in an 83rd ranking semi-final.
It was not pretty at times, but getting over the line in tight matches can only build confidence for the four-time world champion.
Higgins will face Noppon Saaengkham on Saturday evening after his 5-3 win over Sanderson Lam.
Lam took the opener with a run of 73, but the Thailand star hit back with breaks of 93, 100, 94 and 61 to reach the fifth ranking semi-final of his career.
Read the full article here