• International Championship

Higgins shocked in China

ESPN staff
October 27, 2014
John Higgins has not reached the semi-final of a tournament in 18 months © Getty Images

John Higgins suffered a heavy defeat to little-known Li Hang in the first round of the International Championship in China.

Higgins, 39, has slipped into steady decline, failing to advance beyond the quarter-finals of any tournament since finishing runner-up at the Wuxi Classic in June 2013.

The four-time world champion was seen off 6-1 by Li, a 24-year-old still striving to make his way in the game since returning to the tour last year. Li made breaks of 70 and 93 in fending off Higgins who had a highest run of 69 as he slumped to a miserable exit.

Higgins was joined by fellow experienced Scottish potters Graeme Dott and Alan McManus in being knocked out at the last-64 stage, with Dott trounced 6-1 by England's Craig Steadman, despite making a break of 139 in the frame he won, and McManus falling 6-4 to young compatriot Anthony McGill.

Ronnie O'Sullivan had no such trouble against a more established opponent in Leicester's Ben Woollaston, the 38-year-old winning through 6-4 to earn a shot at McGill in the last 32. O'Sullivan plundered breaks of 124, 97 and 87 twice in his opener at the tournament in Chengdu.

Jimmy White fell 6-4 to Barry Hawkins, Mark Williams eased to a 6-1 win over Oliver Brown, Mark Allen sped to a 6-0 whitewash against Nigel Bond, and Stuart Bingham earned a 6-4 victory over Robbie Williams.

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