Masters 2021 – Ronnie goes out to John Higgins in the Quarter Finals

John Higgins beat Ronnie in the Masters 2021 Quarter finals by 6-3. It was an extremely high quality match.

These are the scores and the stats:



It’s not often you will see a player lose by 6-3, having a 95% pot success, and having scored two tons and a 97 but that’s exactly what happened to Ronnie yesterday. He didn’t play badly at all, he actually played very well, but John Higgins was just incredible in that match. Ronnie missed three balls all match. His safety wasn’t bad – 77% success-  but it was the weakest aspect in his game and the one that made the difference.

At one point they had five centuries in a row. Higgins 145 is currently the highest break of the tournament.

Here are the post-match interviews with the BBC:

Here is the report by WST:

Higgins Downs The Rocket In Classic

Masters2021L16ROSHiggins-1John Higgins was victorious in an epic Betfred Masters showdown with World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, winning 6-3 to make the semi-finals in Milton Keynes.

This evening’s classic clash was the latest in one of snooker’s most celebrated and longstanding rivalries. The Rocket and the Wizard have been battling it out on the circuit since they both turned professional in 1992. O’Sullivan, who has won the Masters a record seven times, now has a head-to-head lead of 35-29 over two-time Masters winner Higgins.

Higgins will now face David Gilbert in tomorrow evening’s second semi-final. It will be a repeat of their pulsating World Championship semi-final from 2019, on that occasion Higgins won 17-16. If the Scot can win again, it will send him through to a first Masters final since 2006, when he defeated six-time Crucible king O’Sullivan 10-9. Higgins is also aiming for his first win since the 2018 Welsh Open.

It was 37-time ranking event winner O’Sullivan who got a match of supreme quality up and running with a break of 97 to take the opener. Higgins summoned two contributions of 41 to take the second, before the pair embarked on a barrage of breaks.

Back to back century runs of 145 and 110 from Higgins, were followed by consecutive hundred breaks of 125 and 103 from O’Sullivan to make it 3-3.

From there it was four-time World Champion Higgins who made the decisive burst. The 30-time ranking event winner composed a stunning break of 134 to take the lead at 4-3. That was the fifth consecutive century of the match, equalling the Masters record set by Stephen Maguire and Neil Robertson in 2009.

Higgins made a break of 88 in the next to move one from victory at 5-3. O’Sullivan then had a chance to pull within one, but missed a regulation red and allowed Higgins to fire in a break of 47 to seal a famous win.

We’ve been playing each other for nearly 30 years at the top end of the game and I’m proud that I’m still competing,” said 45-year-old Higgins. “There will be a time sooner rather than later when we won’t be playing these games, so you have to enjoy them while you still can.

“I was really happy with the way I played. You can do it when you are practising, but it is doing it here against the best players. That is where you judge yourself and I’m delighted I did it. I’ve only won a quarter-final match, I have another massive game tomorrow night. I have to put that result to bed.

“It will be a massive game for the two of us tomorrow night. Dave is going for his first big win and I’m going for my first in a couple of years. I’m sure there will be a lot of nerves. I played Dave in the semi-finals of the World Championship a couple of years ago and it was an unbelievable game, hopefully we can put on another one tomorrow night.”

O’Sullivan said: “I’d love to see John win it, for him and for snooker. It would be fantastic to see John pick up silverware, he is too good not to and if it wasn’t for Judd Trump he probably still would be.

“I’m going to have to keep putting in the hours on the practice table and hopefully things will turn around.

And here is the report by Eurosport:


John Higgins produced a performance of the highest class to beat Ronnie O’Sullivan 6-3 at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes on Friday. He knocked in three centuries and a break of 88 to keep himself in the hunt for a third Masters crown. Up next is a meeting with David Gilbert in the semi-finals.

ohn Higgins produced a blistering display to beat Ronnie O’Sullivan 6-3 to progress to the semi-finals of the Masters.

There was huge anticipation ahead of the meeting of two greats of the game, and it was not wasted as they served up a masterclass with five centuries on the spin, which equalled a Masters record set in 2009 between Stephen Maguire and Neil Robertson.

Higgins was the dominant force, despite O’Sullivan knocking in a 97 in the first frame and two centuries, as he rolled back the years to record his first win over the world champion since 2018 to set up a meeting with David Gilbert in the semi-finals.

“Brilliant,” was Higgins’ reaction to Eurosport. “I can’t play any better than that. I thought it was a great match.”

O’Sullivan did little wrong, he just bumped into an opponent who crafted breaks of 145, 110, 134 and 88 to keep himself on course for a third Masters title.

O’Sullivan was in fantastic form in his win over Ding Junhui – he had to be as the Chinese star produced some excellent snooker – and he started impeccably against Higgins. A sloppy safety from the Scot gave the table to O’Sullivan and he struck a crisp red into the left corner and crafted a brilliant 97 to lay down a marker.

Higgins came into the Masters in decent form following plenty of table time in the Championship League the previous week. He knocked in a couple of superb long reds that went clean into the pocket and they helped him level up in the second frame.

The first two frames were about blistering potting, but the third saw the first extended safety battle. It went the way of Higgins who pounced on an error from the seven-time Masters champion to knock in the highest break of the tournament, a 145 to eclipse the 141 Yan Bingtao compiled earlier in the day.

O’Sullivan could only watch on in a mixture of frustration and admiration in the second and third frames, and that continued in the fourth as Higgins knocked in a long red and crafted a superb 110 with pink and black tied up for much of the frame to move 3-1 ahead at the interval.

If O’Sullivan was cold after sitting out three frames in a row, he did not show it in the fifth. His first pot since the second frame was an excellent red into a blind pocket and he knocked in a total clearance of 125 to keep himself in the hunt.

Higgins was first in in the sixth frame, but he left a red above ground with the rest and O’Sullivan stepped in with an impeccable 103 to draw level.

Despite being arguably the greatest of all time, O’Sullivan has never mastered the break off. A gasp of annoyance came from the world champion when he brought a red up the table off his opener in the next. Given Higgins’ form, he knew what it meant as his opponent came to the table and compiled his third century of the match – a 134 – to move back in front.

Higgins extended his lead to two frames when taking the eighth. It was the longest frame of the match, and the Scot showed his all-round quality by getting the better of an extended safety battle before going through the gears with an 88.

O’Sullivan had a chance in the ninth to keep himself alive, but he missed a red when trying to cheat the pocket to remain on a colour and it proved costly as Higgins stepped in to close out a brilliant match that will live long in the memory banks.

Ronnie’s reaction as reported by the media ( here the Express ) shows how annoyed with himself he was after the match:

I made too many unforced errors really,” O’Sullivan said after the match. “I know the breaks look good on the scoresheet but when you miss easy balls and unforced errors, I lacked some safety shots, you are not going to win.

“I am disappointed that I couldn’t cut out them errors really.

“It is no consolation to me. Centuries make a player look good but I made too many mistakes. He was grreat at potting and break-building. He is just going to out-school you and was just far too good for me tonight.

Actually he didn’t make that many mistakes, but he made too many against a player in John Higgins who played  almost perfect snooker and punished every error heavily.

If John can keep that level he will win the tournament very comfortably.

I see Ronnie’s annoyance as a positive sign. He still wants to win… badly!

Those were the reactions by the BBC pundits and commentators:

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.”



10 thoughts on “Masters 2021 – Ronnie goes out to John Higgins in the Quarter Finals

  1. It has occurred to me that yesterday might have been the last match of Ronnie’s career at the Masters. If the event returns to the Ally Pally (with a live audience) from here on out, Ronnie might choose not to play ever again, for the same reasons he chose not to play last season…

    • I wouldn’t worry too much about that Mark. Ronnie is very much an “on the moment” person, and he’s starting to miss the buzz of a crowd…

      • I have been pondering whether the lack of a crowd is to Ronnie’s benefit or not. On one hand, he doesn’t have to feel the pressure of trying to entertain or put on a show for the audience, and doesn’t have to feel like he has let them down if he doesn’t play well. But on the other hand, having so many people cheer for him might give him a boost while being intimidating for at least some of his opponents.

        In any event, this has the potential to be a wasted season for Ronnie, if he can’t pull it together and win something meaningful. He will probably only play in 4 more real tournaments, with the World Championship being the only one left that really counts for “legacy” purposes…

    • Still better than the horror match against Trump as the last one, but he was willing to play this time with crowd etc, and I think he realized it was a mistake not playing last year, not because he needs more Masters titles, but for the other reasons he mentioned.

  2. Well, yeah, Higgins was really spellbinding, it makes people wonder how come he has not won anything since 2018, but then such performances are few and far between for him, bad luck he brought it against Ronnie, though not surprising. Based on this performance he should win the title, for some reason I doubt he can keep it up, but we’ll see. (In the Worlds it would be a 5-3 session, with a lot of hope and possibilities to come back: another reason why I prefer the long version.) But he is a great of the game and I wish these two playing like this could put an end to talk about the “new levels” Trump is producing.

    Ronnie played really well, the worst was that terrible break-off in frame 7 after he worked so brilliantly to equalize. But Ronnie was truly upset in his post-match interview, gone was the “I’m just having fun win or lose” or the post-NI-post-Trump defeat about how he enjoyed himself and results don’t matter. I hated to see him so upset, although the BBC-interview came right after when everyting was fresh, but I suppose I still prefer it to the cavalier-attitude that it all does not matter.

    Well, now “I have no dog in his fight” to root for or against, so good luck to anyone.

  3. Clearly the best Higgins has played for many years. Of course he’ll now be favourite to win the tournament, but there are no guarantees. He should have lost against Allen.

    After Ronnie’s new practice mentality since Christmas, he has looked much sharper than before. But he has actually been outplayed in both matches. Could this now mean he gives up on practicing and reverts to just turning up and ‘having fun’? It’s hard to see him taking the Pro Series terribly seriously.

    • He said that he will continue to put the work and that hopefully it will pay off at some point. He might well take the Pro Series seriously. The longer he stays in it, the more opportunities to get match sharp.

  4. Well the only thing this match proved is that when people say that the standard of snooker is going up they are talking bollox. So Ronnie is right and about everybody else is wrong. No younger player can play to this kind of standard. Don’t get me started about the likes of Gilbert and Wilson, they are unwatchable compared to this. Somebody should stop the lying.
    Also, where on earth is Hazel Irvine and why is everybody keeping their mouth shut about her?

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