John Higgins is the most dominant player in snooker history and has been on top of his game since he began playing at 13. He won the 2018 World Championship, but an injury has kept him from competing for much of this season. Finally healthy again, he swept past Zhao Xintong to reach quarter-finals at Masters 2022.
John Higgins has reached the quarter-finals of the Masters tournament by sweeping past Zhao Xintong.
In November, Zhao Xintong defeated John Higgins (above) in the UK Championship’s final 32.
|Alexandra Palace in London is the location for this event. The dates are 9-16 January.|
|Live coverage is available on TV, the iPlayer, Red Button, the Sport website, and the Sport app.|
With a 6-2 win against UK champion Zhao Xintong at Alexandra Palace, John Higgins advanced to the quarter-finals of the Masters.
Higgins opened with a magnificent century, and despite Zhao’s response of 128, the Scot gained command.
Higgins took a 4-1 lead with a 104 break, and he finished with a controlled 78 to avenge his loss by Zhao at the UK Championship.
With a 6-2 victory against Shaun Murphy, Barry Hawkins advanced to the final eight as well.
Higgins will go on Mark Williams on Thursday, while Hawkins will face either Mark Selby or Stephen Maguire on Friday.
Despite having a poor head-to-head record against 2005 Masters champion Murphy, Hawkins has won the previous three matches in the Masters.
After a rough start in which both players were guilty of blatant misses and, at times, sloppy safeties, the game was tied at 2-2 at the mid-session break.
While the errors persisted, Hawkins found a better rhythm once he got among the balls.
The 42-year-old, who reached the World Championship final in 2013, added two half-century breaks and an outstanding 103 to previous runs of 65 and 67 in a five-frame winning streak.
“It’s the first time this season that I’ve felt like a snooker player,” Hawkins remarked. “I played a lot better after the break, so I’m extremely happy.”
Fitter Higgins reaches a major milestone with a fantastic performance.
While Higgins, 46, is making his record 28th appearance at the Masters, first-round opponent Zhao, 24, is the only player in the 16-man field who has never played before.
Higgins, who led 5-3 before losing 6-5 to Zhao in the UK Championship, ensured there would be no recurrence by combining excellent safety and fantastic potting.
This season, he’s followed a fitness regimen and trimmed down to be in condition, and he’s made four finals.
“Zhao is a gaming superstar, but I am incredibly satisfied with the manner I played to defeat him 6-2,” Higgins told Sport.
“Towards the end, I missed a few.” Maybe it was because I was in such a strong position that I was becoming a little jittery.
“I’m simply relieved to be back, and even more relieved that I can finally fit in the chair.” I’ve never done any physical activity in my life, and I’ve noticed in the past few years that my nerves are becoming a little bit worse.
“However, simply being in better shape and shedding some weight has made a huge difference.”
Higgins looked sharp throughout, demonstrating his ability to score big and dominating the scrappier sets to counteract his opponent’s smooth approach. Zhao’s lone consolation was a 128 in the second frame, which was the highest break of the competition thus far.
Stephen Hendry, seven-time world champion, on Two
“It was lads vs men.” John [Higgins] was completely in charge. Zhao hit a stunning century in the second frame, but he was unable to match it.
“Zhao should have realized that was the level he needed to reach. He won the UK, but if he wants to be successful, he has to forget about it now and focus on getting to that level in the major tournaments on a regular basis.”
Steve Davis, a six-time world champion, on Two
“It was more relaxing than John Higgins had anticipated. The match’s theme was that different people have varied expectations. Not only did Zhao benefit, but it also relieved John Higgins of the pressure of not being anticipated to win.”