Masters snooker 2021: Ronnie O’Sullivan beaten by John Higgins – BBC Sport

Dates: 10-17 January Venue: Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button, BBC Sport website and the BBC Sport app. Highlights on BBC Two and online.

Ronnie O’Sullivan was beaten 6-3 by John Higgins in a remarkable Masters quarter-final featuring a record-equalling five consecutive centuries.

O’Sullivan set the tempo for the high scoring with 97 but Higgins’ sublime 145 – the highest break of the tournament – and 110 put him 3-1 ahead.

The world champion made 125 and 103 and Higgins responded with 134.

It could have been another but Higgins broke down on 88, before completing the victory in Milton Keynes.

He faces David Gilbert in the semi-finals on Saturday, while defending champion Stuart Bingham plays Chinese debutant Yan Bingtao.

‘Higgins was far too good for me’

This unforgettable encounter was the 70th meeting between two of snooker’s greats and players who have shown great longevity. Now aged 45, they both turned professional in 1992 and contested the final of this event three years later.

On that occasion, England’s O’Sullivan trounced Scot Higgins 9-3 to become the youngest player to lift the trophy, aged 19 years and 69 days.

This was another memorable contest which will be remembered for a sensational burst of scoring – the five straight tons matching the feat achieved by Neil Robertson and Stephen Maguire in 2009.

Two-time champion Higgins said: “I enjoyed it. It was a really high standard and only a couple of mistakes were made, it could have gone either way. I am delighted I turned up in a big game against one of the best players.

“I have been putting the practice in and I have felt my form is close to being there. It’s about trying to keep believing you are good enough and that performance will give me confidence.”

Record seven-time winner O’Sullivan added: “I just made too many unforced errors. The breaks look good on the scoresheet but when you miss in among the balls and play lapse safeties, it will cost you against John and you are not going to win. Disappointed I could not cut out the errors.

“Centuries look good on paper but with John playing like that, with his potting and break-building, he is going to outscore you and was far too good for me tonight.”

Analysis – ‘Higgins had us spellbound’

Seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry on BBC Four:

“It has been a complete dominant performance from Higgins. The frames O’Sullivan won were brilliant but Higgins was on another level. I am surprised he does not do this more often.”

1991 world champion John Parrott:

“We call him the Wizard of Wishaw and he had us spellbound this evening and an unbelievable performance from start to finish, the best I have seen him play in a long, long time.”

‘I am absolutely over the moon’

Scotland’s Stephen Maguire was knocked out in an agonising 6-5 loss to China’s 20-year-old Yan.

The debutant scrapped to take the first two frames but Maguire took a prolonged third and then hit 102 to pull level.

Maguire’s superb 137 was the highest break of the event at that point, but Yan compiled 84 and two 50s to go one from victory.

Helped by a fluke, Maguire made a 60 to force a decider, but Yan’s 141 won the match and also denied Maguire the £15,000 highest-break prize, which then moved into Higgins’ possession later on Friday.

Yan will face Bingham in the last four on Saturday (13:00 GMT) as he aims to reach the final in his first appearance in the tournament.

He said: “I am absolutely over the moon and I am really excited about this result. At the beginning I did not even expect to get through the first round and now I am into the semi-finals after making my highest career break.”

On being the youngest Masters semi-finalist since compatriot Ding Junhui, Yan added: “I feel proud of myself and to get that record with Ding, who is my hero. At my age, players don’t even get the chance to get into this event.”

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