Great Higgins Thrashes O’Sullivan


John Higgins played the best snooker of his 29-year career, beating Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-3 in the Cazoo Players Championship final to win his first title in three years.

Notably, Higgins won the tournament with a loss of just four frames after beating Jordan Brown 6-0, Mark Selby 6-0 and Kyren Wilson 6-1 in his first three games at Milton Keynes.

The final between two bait giants who clashed 65 times on the table in a three-decade rivalry proved a one-sided affair with Higgins pausing three centuries and five more over 50 as he raged for the £ 125,000 grand prize and won his 31st rank.

A change in his technique to bring the cue tip closer to the white ball at the address has worked wonders for Higgins in the past few weeks. The Scot was runner-up at Yan Bingtao in the Masters and has shown a better performance this week to reach his first ranking since the 2018 Welsh Open. At 45 years old and a pro since 1992, he insists that he has never hit the ball so cleanly, with such control and confidence.

The result lifts him by one place to fifth place in the world rankings and significantly increases him from tenth to fourth place on the one-year list and guarantees his place at the Cazoo Tour Championship at the end of March. He also earned a spot at the Champion of Champions later that year. No doubt Higgins will be keeping an eye on the Crucible as early as the spring; In this week's shape he will be a powerful force.

O’Sullivan missed the 38th place and the third crown of the Players Championship. Since conquering the Crucible for the sixth time last August, he has now lost four finals. He was beaten by Judd Trump at the Northern Ireland Open, Mark Selby at the Scottish Open, Jordan Brown at the BetVictor Welsh Open and now Higgins. In truth, no opponent could have lived with Higgins this week, he was so strong in every department.

Higgins led 6-2 after the first session and took the first frame tonight with a break of 51 triggered by a tricky, thin cut of red to a corner. O’Sullivan struck back with a break of 110, the fourth century of the game, but failed to score in the next two frames when Higgins made 70 and 77 and led 9-3 on break.

Fittingly, Higgins finished the match in frame 13 with another century, an excellent 127.

"It's the best week of my snooker career," said Higgins, who has now won 30 of his 65 games with O’Sullivan and triumphed in eight of his 18 finals. "I've won bigger tournaments, but in terms of the way I've played and felt all week, it's my best yet." I am delighted.

“I was in the zone tonight, I would have liked to have played more frames. I enjoyed it, especially against an opponent like Ronnie. He played a lot of balls in the first session and that put me off a bit. He obviously thought it was the way he was playing. Leading 6-2 was brilliant and I played well again tonight.

"It's easy to develop bad habits in this game and I don't have a coach. I'm just glad I fixed the technical problem I had and I'll stick with the change I made. A big one Winning a tournament like this guarantees me the chance to compete against the top players for at least the next few years.

"Before Christmas people would not have seen me as one of the favorites for the World Cup. I have a chance now."

O’Sullivan said: "I knew I had to play very well against John today, but in the end I got pounded by him, just like everyone else this week." It's great to see him play well again, it's good for snooker and I'm happy for him. You don't see what he's done on the table this week very often. Hopefully it will be my day the next time I get to a final. "

Article by WST.


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