- The Masters
Higgins eases into last eight of Masters
John Higgins is into the quarter-finals of the Masters for the tenth time after defeating Stuart Bingham 6-2 at the Alexandra Palace with a dominant display.
The two-time former champion has been struggling for form in recent months, despite making a bright start to the campaign with a win at the Bulgarian Open and reaching the final of the Wuxi Classic.
But up against Bingham, who narrowly lost in the final of the Champion of Champions and in a deciding frame in the semi-finals of the UK Championship, Higgins showed signs of having a strong week in North London by producing a solid performance to send the eighth seed crashing out of the tournament.
After taking the first frame, Higgins had the opening chance in the second, but it was Bingham who took command of it with a break of 48. However, following a lengthy safety battle, Bingham went in-off on the final red, and Higgins was presented with the opportunity to double his advantage.
Instead, he missed the final black after landing the pink, and then missed the re-spotted black to allow Bingham to level at 1-1.
Higgins with visits of 32 and 50 was able to move 2-1 in front, and then the four-time champion of the world knocked in a 94 to open up a two-frame advantage.
Bingham struggled to get into any rhythm, and running out of position more than once in the fourth frame was costly, as Higgins punished him with a 65 to extend his advantage.
And as Bingham continued to slump, Higgins grew in confidence, firing in a 109 to move to within one frame of the last eight. Bingham though regrouped to hit his highest contribution of the match, 91, to take his second frame of the night.
But Higgins was not to be denied a place in the quarter-finals, as he claimed the ninth frame to set up a last-eight encounter against defending champion Mark Selby, who earlier edged out Mark Davis 6-5.
"I played better than I have been in the past few months. Stuart didn't play well at all. I'm happy to get through, it was a tough draw," Higgins said.
"Stuart has come into the match and he was feeling the pressure as he was expected to win. It was probably a new experience. But I'm happy to win."
And on his quarter-final tie against Selby, he added: "I haven't played Mark for a while. I couldn't even tell you the last time I played him, that's probably because he's been doing well and I've been doing rubbish! But no, he's up there, and he's one of the favourites to win every tournament he goes in. I'll be the underdog against him, and I feel as if I can give him a good game."