John Higgins put an end to Ronnie’s unbeaten record in the Champion of Champions yesterday, beating him by 10-7 in the Final.
Images by Worldsnooker (on twitter) and Tai Chengzhe – Thanks Tai!
Ronnie edged the first session by 5-4, but, really, there was nothing to separate the players: both made a few mistakes and both scored when in the balls. You could feel that they were both a bit tense and, maybe, tired. Bizarrely, John was the one with the highest pot success, and, Ronnie was the one with the best safety success.
The second session was different: whilst Ronnie continued to struggle with concentration at times and to make the odd mistake, John came out with the type of form he had shown the day before, and that made a lot of difference. There is no doubt that John was the better player in that session and deserved the win. So, I can only say: congratulations John Higgins.
Stephen Hendry did say something interesting before the second session: he stated that whilst both players have huge respect for each other, their mindset was different. Ronnie, he said, would be acutely aware of John’s ability and it might affect him, John would have none of those doubts and be confident he can beat him. I believe that this is very true. The only way to make John Higgins doubt, and falter, is to put him under real pressure, to bully him at the table, and Ronnie was not able to do that yesterday.
If you look at the stats, you will see that it was a high quality match, despite the mistakes:
Scores(John Higgins first): 75(75)-0; 19-69(68); 74(74)-3; 1-100(88); 0-90(90); 79(79)-0; 74(65)-4; 29-88(61); 48-82; 62(60)-23; 64(63)-21; 0-77(74); 88(83)-0; 0-134(130); 76(76)-0; 86(86)-1; 113(58)-0
John made 10 breaks over 50 in 10 frames he won, Ronnie made 6 breaks over 60, including a magnificent 130, the only century of the match, in the 7 frames he won. That’s some standard.
All detailed results from the tournament are on Cuetracker as usual.
Here are the players quotes after the match (source Worldsnooker):
“I am delighted to put my name on the list of Champion of Champions winners,” said Higgins. “It has been a good two weeks and you have to roll with it when it is going for you.
“I can’t speak for Ronnie but I was buzzed up coming into play. I just wish my old man was still here to see me take part in these finals,” Higgins added, referring to his father John who passed away in 2011.
“I thought I had missed the boat at 5-4, he missed a couple but I never took advantage. I was thinking, is that going to give him confidence and then he will go on a roll? I stuck with it and felt great coming into tonight.
“When I play like that, there is no greater feeling. You get in the balls and think you are going to clear up at every chance. I missed a couple at the end but potted a good long red to swing it back my way and finish it off. There is no better feeling than doing it in front of a packed audience, playing against somebody as good as Ronnie.”
O’Sullivan, still seeking his first title of the season, was gracious in defeat. He said: “Well played to John, he played fantastic all week – he was by far the best player of the week. I tried to hang on in there today and make a game of it. John is on a roll at the minute, he is really starting to play as he did a few years ago, so for me he is probably the best player in the world at the moment with the way he is playing.
“I need to find some consistency if I am going to win tournaments again. It is ok playing in spells but you get found out playing players like John. Against most players I might have had a chance of winning but against world-class opposition I made too many mistakes.”
Watch the match (again) here:
And the Trophy ceremony with interviews of both players:
As usual when Ronnie loses, there were some totally uncalled for posts on social media, claiming that he couldn’t be bothered, and had given up. I can only suppose that many of them come from sore “betting” losers. If you’re not bothered, you don’t get to a final, and you are not down on yourself after losing, like Ronnie very clearly was. Ronnie played properly throughout, was very patient and never surrendered to the temptation to push the boat out. He wasn’t good enough on the day against a high quality, on form, John Higgins. It’s that simple.