Masters snooker 2021 - John Higgins masterclass too much for Ronnie O'Sullivan as he reaches semis
John Higgins produced a performance of the highest class to beat Ronnie O'Sullivan 6-3 at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes on Friday. He knocked in three centuries and a break of 88 to keep himself in the hunt for a third Masters crown. Up next is a meeting with David Gilbert in the semi-finals.
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John Higgins produced a blistering display to beat Ronnie O’Sullivan 6-3 to progress to the semi-finals of the Masters.
There was huge anticipation ahead of the meeting of two greats of the game, and it was not wasted as they served up a masterclass with five centuries on the spin, which equalled a Masters record set in 2009 between Stephen Maguire and Neil Robertson.
Higgins was the dominant force, despite O’Sullivan knocking in a 97 in the first frame and two centuries, as he rolled back the years to record his first win over the world champion since 2018 to set up a meeting with David Gilbert in the semi-finals.
O’Sullivan was in fantastic form in his win over Ding Junhui - he had to be as the Chinese star produced some excellent snooker - and he started impeccably against Higgins. A sloppy safety from the Scot gave the table to O’Sullivan and he struck a crisp red into the left corner and crafted a brilliant 97 to lay down a marker.
Higgins came into the Masters in decent form following plenty of table time in the Championship League the previous week. He knocked in a couple of superb long reds that went clean into the pocket and they helped him level up in the second frame.
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The first two frames were about blistering potting, but the third saw the first extended safety battle. It went the way of Higgins who pounced on an error from the seven-time Masters champion to knock in the highest break of the tournament, a 145 to eclipse the 141 Yan Bingtao compiled earlier in the day.
O’Sullivan could only watch on in a mixture of frustration and admiration in the second and third frames, and that continued in the fourth as Higgins knocked in a long red and crafted a superb 110 with pink and black tied up for much of the frame to move 3-1 ahead at the interval.
If O’Sullivan was cold after sitting out three frames in a row, he did not show it in the fifth. His first pot since the second frame was an excellent red into a blind pocket and he knocked in a total clearance of 125 to keep himself in the hunt.
‘Trademark wizardry!’ – Higgins completes total clearance to edge ahead
Higgins was first in in the sixth frame, but he left a red above ground with the rest and O’Sullivan stepped in with an impeccable 103 to draw level.
Despite being arguably the greatest of all time, O’Sullivan has never mastered the break off. A gasp of annoyance came from the world champion when he brought a red up the table off his opener in the next. Given Higgins’ form, he knew what it meant as his opponent came to the table and compiled his third century of the match - a 134 - to move back in front.
Higgins extended his lead to two frames when taking the eighth. It was the longest frame of the match, and the Scot showed his all-round quality by getting the better of an extended safety battle before going through the gears with an 88.
O’Sullivan had a chance in the ninth to keep himself alive, but he missed a red when trying to cheat the pocket to remain on a colour and it proved costly as Higgins stepped in to close out a brilliant match that will live long in the memory banks.