2021 Tour Championship – QF: Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-8 John Higgins

Csilla commented yesterday that Ronnie had won none of the important matches this season. I disagreed, but didn’t answer. Although he had lost in all finals he had played, I thought that some matches he had won were important: notably the wins over Ding Junhui and over Ali Carter after they had beaten him in the World Championship in recent times, those over Ali in particular given the circumstances of their last Crucible match. Of course, it’s debatable whether this psychological aspect of certain matches is equally or more important than the “status” of the match itself.

I do believe however that yesterday’s win is a very important one, even if it’s “only” a quarter-final. Just consider this: although Ronnie has 38 professional wins over John whilst John has 31 over him, in ranking events John leads him 19-12. Before yesterday night, Ronnie had not beaten John Higgins in a multi-session match since the 2005 Masters Final, and he had not beaten him in a ranking multi-session match since the 2003 Irish Masters Final. With that in mind, it’s no wonder that Ronnie feels like the underdog each time they play.

To make it worse for Ronnie, he was playing with a damaged cue. It felt so bad that he actually wanted to withdraw and leave his spot to Jordan Brown, but wasn’t allowed to. That said, it might have been a blessing in disguise. Indeed, it may have taken the pessure off Ronnie to an extent. He wasn’t expected to win under the circumstances.

Despite not playing at his very best Ronnie had a 94% pots success in this match, John Higgins at 91% as well. Here are the scores and stats:

2021TourChampionshipROS-Scores

2021TourChampionshipROS-Stats

Here are the reports by WST:

Afternoon session

Rocket Leads The Wizard

2021TourChampionshipROS-1World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan opened up a 5-3 advantage over John Higgins in their Cazoo Tour Championship quarter-final at the Celtic Manor Resort.

The pair met in the final of the Cazoo Players Championship earlier this month, where Higgins produced a vintage display to blitz to a 10-3 victory. That was Higgins’ first ranking event win for three years since the 2018 Welsh Open.

O’Sullivan, a winner of 37 career ranking titles, has appeared in four finals so far this season, at the Northern Ireland Open, Scottish Open, Welsh Open and Players Championship, but has lost on each occasion. He’ll be hoping he can clinch his first silverware of the campaign this week ahead of next month’s trip to the Crucible, where he will be looking to defend his title.

It was 31-time ranking event winner Higgins who took the opener this afternoon, firing in a run of 72 to move a frame ahead. Breaks of 93 and 72 then saw O’Sullivan wrest the advantage and move 2-1 up. However, a fine century break of 101 by Higgins restored parity at the mid-session.

When they returned they traded frames, before O’Sullivan surged to take the final two of the afternoon to lead 5-3 heading into this evening’s conclusion.

Evening session

O’Sullivan Battles Past Higgins

2021TourChampionshipROS-2World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan defeated John Higgins in a multi-session match for the first time since 2005, winning 10-8 in their Cazoo Tour Championship quarter-final.

The last time O’Sullivan defeated Higgins in a clash stretching over more than one session was in the 2005 Masters final. Today’s victory ends that 16-year run.

The result avenges their last meeting in the Cazoo Players Championship final earlier this month, where Higgins stormed to a 10-3 victory. That saw Higgins secure his first ranking title in three years since the 2018 Welsh Open.

O’Sullivan will now face either world number one Judd Trump or Barry Hawkins in the second semi-final on Saturday.

The Rocket is aiming to pick up his first silverware of the season, having lost all four of the finals he has appeared in this season. O’Sullivan has been runner-up at the Northern Ireland Open, Scottish Open, Welsh Open and Players Championship so far this campaign.

It was O’Sullivan who established a 5-3 advantage after this afternoon’s opening session and he started quickest this evening as well, firing in a break of 72 to lead 6-3.

Higgins responded immediately with a run of 73 to pull within two, before they traded the following two frames to head into the mid-session with O’Sullivan leading 7-5.

When play resumed, O’Sullivan composed a fine century run of 112 to re-establish a three frame gap. However, Higgins claimed two on the bounce to ensure an intriguing finish at 8-7.

O’Sullivan moved a frame from victory with his 1,100th career century break, a run of 101. Higgins clawed one back, before a tense 18th frame. Higgins required and got a snooker on the last red. However, O’Sullivan eventually potted the yellow and cleared to the pink to run out a 10-8 victor.

“I just tried to enjoy the occasion, enjoy the game and not get too involved with winning or losing,” said 45-year-old O’Sullivan. “I just turn up and play, if you play well one week then great. If you don’t then no big deal, there is one next week. It is good when you play in quite a few tournaments, as you don’t care if you win or lose.”

Higgins said: “I’m disappointed, Ronnie struggled a bit as well. It must have been good to watch, but the quality wasn’t the best.

“This was a massive tournament to play in, I lost in the first round last year and I’ve done the same again. I just have to dust myself down now.”

And the reports by Eurosport:

Afternoon session

TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP SNOOKER 2021 – RONNIE O’SULLIVAN LEADS JOHN HIGGINS IN QUARTER-FINAL

O’Sullivan is in pole position to reach the Tour Championship semi-finals after building a two-frame lead in the first session of his match with Higgins. The event runs from March 22-28 and features the top eight players from the one-year ranking list: O’Sullivan, Higgins, Neil Robertson, Jack Lisowski, Mark Selby, Kyren Wilson, Judd Trump and Barry Hawkins.

Ronnie O’Sullivan will take a 5-3 lead into the evening session of his quarter-final with John Higgins at the Tour Championship.
O’Sullivan is bidding to banish memories of his last outing against Higgins, when he was turned over 10-3 in the Players Championship final in February.
Higgins was first on the scoreboard with a 72 break before the Rocket pegged him back with knocks of 92 and a 72 of his own.

The session’s only century saw Higgins draw level before the pair traded the fifth and sixth frames to leave the match delicately poised at 3-3.
But O’Sullivan seized the initiative by taking the final two frames of the first session – including a 69 knock in the seventh – to leave him five from victory in the best-of-19 contest.

Evening session

TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP 2021: ‘SIGH OF RELIEF’ – RONNIE O’SULLIVAN CONQUERS CUE CRISIS AND JOHN HIGGINS

Ronnie O’Sullivan overcame a cue crisis and old foe John Higgins to complete a rousing 10-8 victory in the Tour Championship quarter-finals. The six-times defending world champion considered withdrawing from the elite event due to his unhappiness with the condition of his cue before producing a gritty display to edge out Higgins, who filleted him 10-3 in the Players Championship final last month.

Ronnie O’Sullivan has admitted he breathed a “sigh of relief” after overcoming his cue crisis to complete a 10-8 win over old foe John Higgins in the Tour Championship quarter-finals at Celtic Manor in Wales.
The world champion revealed before his meeting with Higgins that he considered withdrawing from the elite event involving the top eight on the World Snooker Tour one-year ranking list because he was unhappy with the condition of his cue.

I’ve had a nightmare with my cue,” said O’Sullivan before the match after encountering issues during the WST Pro Series event last week. “I put it in the menders and I got it back. It was no good, but sending it back has made it worse. It’s kind of irretrievable now so I need to get myself a new cue.

IF I HAD BEEN GIVEN THE OPTION TO PULL OUT, TAKE MY PRIZE MONEY AND GIVEN (WELSH OPEN WINNER) JORDAN BROWN MY PLACE, I WOULD DEFINITELY HAVE TAKEN THAT OPTION BECAUSE IT IS BETTER TO GO TO SOMEONE WHO HAS A GOOD CHANCE OF WINNING.

As for today, I don’t expect too much from my game. I’ve just got to come here, collect my prize money and try to do something today.”

Despite his concerns, O’Sullivan produced a gritty and gallant display laced with moments of his trademark brilliance to reach the last four and a best-of-19 frame semi-final showdown with world number one Judd Trump or Barry Hawkins on Saturday in the chase for a £150,000 first prize.
O’Sullivan’s break of 101 in the 16th frame was the 1100th century of his golden 29-year career. He also enjoyed knocks of 112, 69, 56, 72, 69, 72 and 93 and a pot success of 94 percent with his much-maligned cue.

“It was a lot more playable than I thought it was going to be,” said O’Sullivan, who enjoyed his first win over Higgins in a two-session match since the 2005 Masters final that he won 10-3.
“That was a sigh of relief if you like. I felt I could at least do something in the balls.
“After this tournament is done, I’ll have to send it back and see if I can get it back to how it felt if I can.

IT WAS PLAYABLE, BUT ITS STILL NOT RIGHT. IT WEIGHS A TON, IT FEELS OUT OF BALANCE, BUT THE NOISE AND STRIKING WAS ALRIGHT SO I COULD PLAY MOST OF THE IMPORTANT SHOTS.

Higgins won the first frame with a 72, but was never ahead again in the match despite keeping in touch with runs of 101, 74, 73 and 70.
The Scotsman closed to 9-8 behind having lost the first session 5-3, but could not replicate the pristine level of form that saw him thrash O’Sullivan 10-3 in the Players Championship final.

If he plays well, he beats me every time,” said the world number two, who turned professional alongside Higgins in 1992. “I’d have to play out of my skin to stay with him, but if he’s below par I’ve got a chance of beating him.

FOR ME, HE’S THE BEST ALL-ROUND PLAYER. HE HAD A STINKER TODAY AND THAT’S WHY I GOT THROUGH REALLY. I’LL TAKE THAT ANYWAY ESPECIALLY AFTER THE DRUBBING HE GAVE ME A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO.

Higgins will turn his attention to preparing himself for the World Championship as he chases a fifth Crucible title over four decades.

It was a strange game to play in, but the best man won,” said Higgins, world champion in 1998, 2007, 2009 and 2011. “I was bashing the ball, I wasn’t stroking it.

THAT’S THE WAY I FELT THROUGHOUT THE GAME. RONNIE GOT A MONSTROUS KICK FOR ME TO MAKE IT 9-8, BUT THE CONDITIONS WERE HEAVY. IT WAS A WEIRD GAME.

It would have been great if I could have replicated the form at the Players, but I think sometimes you have to focus on the positives. I don’t think I played that badly.
“I’ve got a few weeks practice before the worlds and hopefully I can give it a good go there.”

 

Ronnie made his 1100th Century during the match:

Here are a couple of images of the setup and the studio

and of the players entering the arena and in action

as well as some short videos:

Phil Seymour tournament intro

A John Higgins’ fluke

Century 1099 for Ronnie

shared on twitter by WST

5 thoughts on “2021 Tour Championship – QF: Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-8 John Higgins

  1. Ronnie’s first win this season in 6 tries against Higgins/Trump/Selby. He will almost certainly have to beat at least one of those players to win the World Championship this season, and probably two.

  2. very important win for Ronnie to beat John Higgins in a long match as you pointed out. That should give him a boost for the next match.

    Its worrying though that he has the cue problems apparently. We’re only a few weeks away from the World Championship.

  3. LOL, after I wrote about important matches I thought that maybe the match against Slessor was one of the important ones psychologically and true, Ali Carter. Ronnie has a great record against Ding Junhui, except that Crucible match, so for me the match against him at the Worlds last year was very significant (more important than the others), restoring some normalcy so to speak. It is actually a fascinating topic to discuss, but no argument about yesterday’s match vs. Higgins. It was huge.

    Especially after listening to that terrible pre-match interview on ITV (did he really try to pull out???) and then he came out unshaven so I almost choked on my martini, he really applied himself from start to finish, despite some shots that could have acquired nightmare quality had he lost (notably the blue (frame 14 I think, and the kick on the red). He didn’t play his best, but was certainly fighting out there, it was good (and a relief) to see it paid off.

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