Seven years ago John Higgins came through a 10-9 victor in arguably the best ever Shanghai Masters final against Judd Trump.
With the 13th running of the event just under two weeks away, we caught up with the four-time World Champion to preview his trip to Shanghai for the elite 24-player invitational…
John, looking ahead to this year’s Shanghai Maters what are your targets given there is such a prestigious field in attendance?
“I just want to win one match! I’ve not had a great record in Shanghai apart from that final with Judd Trump in 2012. It is a tough event because you are playing against the best players in the world. I just find it an enjoyable tournament to be a part of. I’m taking my brother and my brother in law out there this year. I am playing in the Six Red World Championship in Bangkok just before that, so they are going to get a holiday out of it. The Shanghai Masters is one of the best tournaments we play in all year and it is a great city to go to.”
How fondly do you look back on that dramatic final with Judd Trump back in 2012?
“That was just a brilliant match. Judd played really well at the beginning and was completely shutting me out. I was 5-0 behind and it looked as if he was just going to go on and win it. However, I managed to make a maximum break which was a special moment. I still ended the first session 7-2 behind and you don’t really give yourself much of a chance from that position. I was lucky that I began to play really well and he missed a couple of balls. We always seem to have good matches against each other and that was certainly one of them.”
After losing Crucible finals in 2017 and 2018, you talked about how hard that hit you at times last season and cast doubts on your future in the sport.
However, you managed to put that aside and reach a third consecutive World Championship final back in May, coming up short against Judd Trump. How are you feeling currently about your game and what is the key to the longevity that has allowed you to still be at the top of snooker at the age of 44?
“Well it does get a little bit harder as you get older, but it is just one of those things. I am a snooker player and that is all I’ve ever known. When you retire that is it for the rest of your life. You need to enjoy it while you still can and while your eyesight is still alright. Snooker doesn’t really have any age barriers. That is one of the great things about it. Especially if you compare it to things like football and tennis where you are finished by your late 30s.
“I’ve never got too high when winning events and I’ve also never really got too low when I’ve lost. That was slightly different over the last couple of years, but I’ve generally kept things at a happy medium and that has stood me in good stead.”
Two places in the Shanghai Masters go to players who have come through the Amateur Masters. How important do you think events like that are to boost the grassroots of the sport?
“I think the Amateur Masters is brilliant and the city always supports it. That is to their great credit because you can see how things like that are helping young talent come through in China. Each year they have more young guys emerging. I played a teenager called Wu Yize at International Championship qualifying and won 6-5. He is a fabulous player and it is events like the Amateur Masters which allow people like him to develop.”