Nervy Higgins delighted with home success

John Higgins was "over the moon" to win his first ranking event on home soil after admitting he almost bottled it against Ryan Day in the Royal London Watches Grand Prix final last night.

John Higgins was "over the moon" to win his first ranking event on home soil after admitting he almost bottled it against Ryan Day in the Royal London Watches Grand Prix final last night.

Two-time world champion Higgins held off a spirited comeback from his Welsh opponent at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre in Glasgow last night to equal the record four Grand Prix titles won by fellow Scot Stephen Hendry.

Higgins, 33, was far from his best, but it proved enough against a jaded Day, who fought back to lose 9-7 after finally getting his act together at 7-2 down.

"To win 9-7, I'm just over the moon," said Higgins, who revealed he feared defeat in what was his 31st ranking final from the moment Day made it 7-3.

"I couldn't believe I was 7-2 in front really.

"I knew I was going to struggle to get over the line because I just wasn't feeling confident at all.

"I knew big Ryan would let his arm go because that's the worst he's played all week. He's been playing fantastically and I couldn't believe some of the balls he was missing.

"Then it went 7-3 and I had to great chances to make it 8-3."

That chance was a long yellow which Higgins refused, opting instead to play safe. The decision cost him the frame and Day then won the next two to close to 7-6.

Higgins, who has risen to sixth in the world rankings as a result of his victory, said: "I really did think I was going to lose the match and I'd have deserved to lose the match for not having the balls to take the yellow on."

A jittery Higgins stopped the rot to close to within a frame of victory and although Day hit back again, the Scot held his nerve in what proved the final frame after compiling his seventh half-century of the match.

"I played well in patches but I didn't play great and I was so lucky that Ryan had an off day," said Higgins, who clinched his 19th ranking title.

"If Ryan had played to the same standard he'd been playing all week, he would have been too strong for me because my game wasn't there."

The former world number one - from nearby Wishaw - has enjoyed great support in Glasgow and last night was no exception.

There were also plenty of friends and family cheering him on.

"It's been a great tournament," Higgins said of the event, which switched from Aberdeen to Glasgow this year.

"I think it needed a Scottish boy to be doing quite well to keep the momentum of the Scottish people going.

"It was a vast improvement on Aberdeen and I hope we can come back here."

Day, who is still looking for his first ranking title after his third final defeat, said: "I just didn't get going early doors.

"I thought, 'Stick in there and see what happens'. I had chances in lots of the frames that I lost as well.

"I won four on the spin to get it to 7-6 and if I'd nicked that last frame there - eight each - it's anyone's."

Day, who moves up to third in the world, believes he paid for late finishes in his previous two matches.

He said: "All week, I'd been the stronger player at the start of the match and it's a bit different to playing catch-up, especially against someone of John's class and experience, who doesn't give you anything.

"I felt absolutely fine on the nervous energy front but just didn't play the same."

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