Yesterday, John Higgins beat Anthony McGill by 5-1 to win his 29th ranking title. Congratulations John.
Higgins Wins in India
16th September 2017
John Higgins won his 29th ranking title, putting him ahead of Steve Davis and Ronnie O’Sullivan, by beating Anthony McGill 5-1 in an all-Scottish clash at the Indian Open final in Vishakhapatnam.
Higgins won his first ranking title back in 1994 and, 23 years later, has finally overtaken the tally of his boyhood idol Davis, as well as fellow legend O’Sullivan. Stephen Hendry remains well out in front with 36 but Higgins remains a regular tournament winner at the age of 42, and could yet catch him.
He moves up from third to second in the world rankings thanks to the top prize of £50,000 at the first event staged in Vishakhapatnam on India’s east coast.
Higgins, whose 28th ranking title came at the 2015 International Championship, won seven matches in this event, albeit without facing a player ranked among the top 16.
The final was a case of master beating apprentice as Higgins outplayed his fellow Glaswegian and practice partner, who had been defending the title. McGill, 26, missed out on his third ranking title but still picked up £25,000 and is up to 18th in the world.
Higgins won the first two scrappy frames with a top break of 42 then McGill made a 49 in the third to pull one back.
A run of 71 from four-time World Champion Higgins, the highest break of the final, put him 3-1 up at the interval, and he made a 49 in frame five before sealing it on the colours. And he dominated the next with runs of 37 and 34 to secure the title.
“It was a scrappy final, I was lucky that Anthony was nowhere near his best,” said Higgins. “I didn’t play great but I made things difficult for him.
“It’s a great feeling to win a tournament because you don’t know when your next one is going to come. I’ve had some tough games this week and it’s a short format so there’s a lot of pressure when you are favourite.
“Steve and Ronnie have both won more invitation events than me, and I’m sure Ronnie will win more ranking events. But just to go above Steve, who was my hero growing up, is a feather in the cap for me. It’s an unbelievable feeling.
“Anthony has got his head screwed on right and he’s a hard worker. He hasn’t changed at all since he was a boy, he’s a lovely guy. He’ll win a lot more titles.
“I can’t enjoy this one tonight because I’m going straight on the Yushan World Open so I don’t want to get there with a sore head! I’ll celebrate when I get back from China.”
Earlier in the semi-finals, McGill edged out Mark King 4-3 while Higgins scored a 4-2 win over China’s 19-year-old Xu Si, putting an end to the teenage rookie’s best run in a ranking event.
Indian Open winners
2013 Ding Junhui
2015 Michael White
2016 Anthony McGill
2017 John Higgins
There’s a few more things to be said about this tournament. The first is that the feedback of the players was extremely positive: they were made very welcome and the hospitality was fantastic. The field was somehow depleted, with many top players giving it a miss, including Mark Selby, Judd Trump, Ronnie and Ding among the “box office” boys. That of course opened things up for less fancied players and it was remarkable that at the QF stage we had players like Zhang Anda, Liam Highfield, Elliot Slessor and the 19 years old Xu Si still in the draw. All credits to them for making the most of the opportunity and showing what they are capable of: Elliot beat Shaun Murphy fair and square and Xu Si went one better, reaching the SF with wins over Ricky Walden and David Gilbert. Xu Si is one to watch: to do this in his first season as a pro is anything but ordinary. He is also one of the players working at the Vic Snooker Academy. Victoria and Nigel Bond are doing a great job there!
A few players were invited to join the Indian commentary team in the commentary box, which is always great as they of course give professional insight.
So now, John Higgins is one ahead to Ronnie and Steve Davis in ranking titles. I must say I’m not reading too much in this except that it’s the mark of a remarkable career. What I feel uncomfortable with when it comes to these stats, is that things are compared that aren’t comparable as I tried to explain in this earlier post. Steve Davis won the UK twice when it wasn’t ranking, at a time when only the World Championship counted as ranking. A number of today’s ranking tournaments are no different, or barely different from the now defunct PTCs, with only the final being best of 9 instead of best of 7 in some. Yet the PTCs are not taken into account … but the Shootout is (Don’t get me started!). If the PTCs counted, Mark Selby would be on 19 ranking titles, just one behind Mark Williams who would be on 20. And, for the record, this is not about Ronnie as it would change nothing in the “order” as both him and John have won 3 PTCs, and been runner-ups in 3.