John Higgins, despite not having the English Open title in his illustrious career, is on a promising path to change that narrative. He achieved a convincing victory over Martin O’Donnell in the quarter-finals at the Brentwood Centre on Friday, displaying remarkable skills on the snooker table. This win sets up an exciting clash with Judd Trump in the semi-finals on Saturday. Trump, in an earlier match, defeated Matthew Selt.
John Higgins booked a semi-final meeting with Judd Trump at the English Open after proving too good for Martin O’Donnell.
After dropping off the circuit, O’Donnell got his tour card back for the 2023/24 season and showed his quality with wins over Mark Selby, Stephen Maguire and He Guoqiang earlier in the week.
But Higgins proved too big an obstacle to overcome, as the four-time world champion secured a 5-1 win in Brentwood without ever hitting top form.
After seeing his fellow Class of ’92 alumni Ronnie O’Sullivan and Mark Williams win tournaments in recent weeks, Higgins may well have it in his mind to prove that there is still fire burning in his belly.
Higgins carried on the momentum from his demolition of Oliver Lines the previous evening with a couple of excellent contributions to take the opening frame.
O’Donnell could have been forgiven for faltering after seeing a player of Higgins’ stature pounce on his mistakes in the first. To his credit, he produced some tight safety and good pots to secure a nerve-settler by taking the second.
A crunching long red into the yellow pocket in the third frame prompted David Hendon on Eurosport commentary to quip “he needs a new nickname” in reference to O’Donnell’s ‘Minister of Defence’ moniker.
O’Donnell did not take advantage of the excellent pot though, and found himself in trouble shortly afterwards as Higgins laid a telling snooker and went on to craft a break of 82.
Without hitting peak form, Higgins extended his lead to 3-1 at the interval on the back of a knock of 77.
The frame upon the resumption mirrored the opener as both got in, only to run out of position.
With the frame in the balance, O’Donnell went for a long red and saw it wriggle in the jaws of the bottom left.
Higgins emerged with purpose and picked off the balls needed to take the frame and move within one of victory.
Higgins’ storied career boasts 31 ranking titles, but the English Open does not feature – yet.
He suffered an agonising 9-8 defeat in the final to Neil Robertson a couple of years ago, but is firmly on track to right that wrong after taking the sixth with a run of 70 to book a clash with Trump.
On the flip side, Martin O’Donnell won’t have to bide his time for a chance at redemption, as he is scheduled to take on Higgins at the upcoming Wuhan Open next week.