John Higgins was sensationally dumped out of the British Open by China’s Yuan Sijun.
Yuan – more than half Higgins’ age at just 22 years old – held his nerve in a final-frame decider at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes to land victory after Higgins had missed what would’ve been the clinching red.
Yuan belied his lack of experience early on by storming into a 2-0 lead, with Higgins – a four-time winner of the British Open – looking puzzled as Yuan knocked in a composed break of 52 to take the opener.
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Higgins then looked odds-on to level at 1-1 but missed a black when on for a 147, letting in his opponent who cleared the table with another fluent break, this time of 72.
There’s little time for a blip in these first-to-four clashes, and Higgins needed to respond quickly. That he did in the third, belatedly getting on the board after a scrappy frame.
But they all count, and it seemed to buoy Higgins in the next, as he knocked off a fine break of 78 to make the scores even.
It got even better for the ‘Wizard of Wishaw’ in frame five, as he got in amongst the balls and proceeded to put on an exhibition, compiling a terrific break of 132 – his 900th career century – that saw him take the lead for the first time in the encounter.
But it wasn’t to be a procession from there as Yuan pegged Higgins back in the next, capitalising on a surprising miss from the Scot to level things up at 3-3.
The handshake preceded the decider – which way would it tip?
Higgins did much of the running, getting in and racking up what looked likely to be a match-winning effort, but he missed frame ball and then passed up another opportunity to seal it.
Yuan brought the scores back to 64-39, before forcing a mistake from Higgins to set up his own shot at the match.
And he made no mistake, clenching his first as he got into perfect position on the final black, which he rattled into the corner pocket.
Also in action on Tuesday afternoon was Mark Selby, who comfortably saw off Mark Joyce 4-1.
Selby lost the opener to hint at yet another shock, but soon found his range with a break of 110 in the second to make it 1-1.
From there it was more of the same for Selby, as he made a 50+ break in each of the next three frames to seal his win and a place in the third round.
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