Indian Open: Higgins, Haotian in last four

World No. 4 John Higgins defeated China's Li Hang 4-3 to enter the semifinal of the 2019 Indian Open snooker tournament in Kochi.

Lyu Haotian

Lyu Haotian defeated Mark Davis to progress to the semifinal of the 2019 Indian Open held in Kochi.   -  Special Arrangement

Watching John Higgins, one gets the feeling that he often whispers sweet nothings to the cue ball. His shots are soft and tender, almost a caress. Clearly, the former four-time World champion is a class above the rest at the fifth Indian Open world-ranking snooker tournament here.

On Saturday evening, despite being stretched to the decider and having a bit of trouble with the cushion, the 43-year-old Scot kept his cool as he defeated China’s Li Hang 4-3 and entered the semifinal at the Grand Hyatt here on Saturday night.

On the next table, the baby-faced Lyu Haotian, who is the youngest of the Chinese gang here at 21, made the last-four stage with a 4-2 verdict over Englishman Mark Davis.

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Both Higgins and Hang started with big breaks, the Scot with a century in the opening frame and Hang with 84 in the next. Higgins took the first frame and Hang the next and that was the trend till 3-3. But Higgins raised his game in the decider to win comfortably.

“Li is playing his best snooker, I knew it would be difficult. And the table was pretty difficult, the bounce was uneven,” said Higgins, the defending champion.

“It is difficult when you don’t know the way the cushions are gong to react. So, you try and adapt as soon as you could,” he added.

John Higgins

John Higgins, who turned pro at 17, has a career total of 30 titles, including four World Championship crowns.   -  AFP

 

Meanwhile, Haotian was cool and composed and kept his nerve in tight situations. A couple of days ago, he had beaten his compatriot Zhou Yuelong soon after he had scored the ‘maximum’ and on Saturday night, the young Chinese seemed to have the mental edge over Davis.

After he won the opening frame, Haotian virtually got the next on a platter with Davis failing to pocket the last black. The Chinese was trailing the Englishman by a point at that stage and he happily accepted the offer.

Earlier, China’s Lu Ning bounced back from 1-3 down to jolt England’s former World champion Stuart Bingham, the fourth seed, 4-3 while Scotland’s Scott Donaldson, staved off a strong challenge from Belgium third-seeded Luca Brecel, the World No. 11, by a similar margin in the pre-quarterfinals.

Results:

Quarterfinals: Lyu Haotian (Chn) bt Mark Davis (Eng) 4-2 (64-52, 67-61, 28-98, 9-62, 133(106)-0, 74-5); John Higgins (Sco) bt Li Hang (Chn) 104 (104)-27, 0-84, 85-1, 44-59, 99-0, 0-68, 78-1).

Pre-quarterfinals: Scott Donaldson (Sco) bt Luca Brecel (Bel) 4-3 (0-120 (120), 73-0, 132 (132)-0, 70-32, 11-51, 11-51, 59-37); Mathew Selt (Eng) bt Oliver Lines (Eng) 4-3 (93-33, 1-74, 16-77, 65-22, 5-69, 83-17); Anthony Hamilton (Eng) bt Chris Wakelin (Eng) 4-2 (9-95, 4-93, 77-46, 112-7, 127 (113)-1, 82-0); Mark Davis (Eng) bt Graeme Dott (Sco) 4-3 (70-51, 16-69, 74-9, 0-136 (136), 75-7, 0-103, 69-0); Lu Ning (Chn) bt Stuart Bingham (Eng) 4-3 (16-83, 70-58, 19-91, 0-75, 81-7, 76-18, 61-57); John Higgins (Sco) bt James Cahill (Eng) 4-1 (74-15, 72-38, 90-0, 40-74, 70-5); Lyu Haotian (Chn) bt Andy Hicky (Eng) 4-1 (87-2, 107-1, 47-71, 59-22, 65-9); Li Hang (Chn) bt Sam Craigie (Eng) 4-2 (0-0, 79-14, 1-92, 24-104, 130-0, 85-17, Li Hang won the first frame by default as Craigie was late).