John Higgins reached the last four of the Bank of Beijing China Open this afternoon after coming through a scrappy quarter-final encounter with world number one Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Higgins, the 2007 world champion, ran out a 5-4 winner against the man who took the title from him last year to set up a semi-final clash with Ryan Day, who was far more convincing in defeating Shaun Murphy 5-0 in the session’s other quarter-final.
O’Sullivan took the first frame with some ruthless play after Higgins had missed a long pot, only for the Scot to recover in fine style, taking the next three to open up a commanding lead.
The Rocket then won a dramatic fifth frame on the black and came through an error-strewn sixth to level the match at 3-3 but both players continued to make mistakes in the seventh before Higgins composed himself to draw within one frame of victory.
O’Sullivan rallied again to take the match into a ninth-frame decider but missed two easy blacks, which Higgins capitalised on to complete the victory.
Higgins was pleased to get through but admitted the snooker had been poor and he would have to improve to make the final.
“It was exciting but the standard was really bad,” Higgins told www.worldsnooker.com.
“I didn’t know what I was going to miss next, so I’m sure the crowd felt the same. I was bad and just lucky that Ronnie was a little bit worse. If I play like that tomorrow, Ryan will beat me.”
O’Sullivan was typically blunt in his assessment.
“It was rubbish. We were both terrible,” he said.
“I didn’t feel like potting anything, let alone clearing up. I didn’t think I’d be able to leave John chances but I gave him many and he still missed. It was a night to forget.”
Meanwhile, Day was whitewashing Murphy with some steady cue work after the UK champion had been unable to complete a series of breaks.
The Welshman, who reached the semi-finals last season, did not need a break of higher than 54 until the final frame and made amends for his heavy defeat against Murphy in the Malta Cup final two years ago.
“I’ve played well in China for the last two seasons. I’m not happy that I haven’t won a (ranking) title yet but I’m giving it my best shot,” he said afterwards.
The other semi-final will see Stuart Pettman take on Peter Ebdon after victories over Graeme Dott and Stephen Hendry, respectively, earlier in the day.
Pettman was delighted with his 5-2 win, which maintained his superb run of form this week that has also seen him overcome Ali Carter and Mark Allen and go beyond the last 16 of a ranking tournament for the first time in his 17-year career.
“When you win a couple of matches, you want to go on and win the whole thing,” Pettman said.
“Deep down I knew I could do this but it was just a case of bringing it out on this stage.”
Ebdon was equally ecstatic with his performance, a dominant 5-1 victory over the seven-time world champion and part of the Englishman’s continuing recovery after a poor season.
“(I’m) absolutely delighted. Stephen Hendry is one of the toughest, most ferocious match players the game has ever seen,” said Ebdon.
“Any win over Stephen is a great win.”