Snooker: Higgins delighted with Open win

John Higgins ended his three-year wait for a ranking title by capturing the British Open crown with a 9-6 victory over fellow Scot Stephen Maguire in Brighton tonight.

Higgins, beaten in his last six finals, roared back to his best to pocket the £30,000 top prize and his 25th major title. It capped a memorable week for the 29-year-old who had been ready to pull out of the event if his heavily pregnant wife Denise went into labour.

But they both made it through to the end and Higgins was able to dash to the airport straight after his victory ready for an early morning doctor's appointment.

"That's probably the most important title I've ever won," Higgins said. "When I first started winning tournaments 10 years ago they came in a steady stream but when you haven't won one for three years you start to doubt yourself.

"When I was watching the Grand Prix last month, and how well Ronnie O'Sullivan played, I couldn't see any way of getting back to that sort of form. But it just shows it can happen and what was pleasing was that I played some of my best ever snooker."

Maguire, 23, had reached the final, with a stunning 6-1 defeat of world champion O'Sullivan on Saturday. He opened up against Higgins with a break of 71 but fell 3-1 adrift at the first interval as his compatriot reproduced the form that saw him whitewash Shaun Murphy in the semi-finals.

Higgins, appearing in his first ranking final since the LG Cup 13 months ago, made a break of 100 in the third frame as he established his two-frame advantage. Maguire hit back, though, with runs of 72, 55 and 76 to lead 4-3 before Higgins ended the opening session with an effort of 53 to make it 4-4.

At 5-5, Higgins upped his game as he fired in successive breaks of 144 and 107 to go two frames clear again. A 68 made it 8-5 and Higgins clinched victory two frames later with a run of 97.

"I played very well to go from 5-5 to 7-5," he said. "Stephen is such a tough opponent and he played really well all week. He'll be winning tournaments on a regular basis in the future. Ronnie called him one of the best young players in the world but he's actually one of the best players full stop." Maguire, who won the European Open last season, rises to seventh in the provisional rankings after another impressive week.

He said: "I'm a little bit disappointed because when you reach a final you want to win but John played really well. At least I didn't freeze in the final. John looked so good, he hasn't won for a few years but I practise with him a lot and I knew he'd be back."

Higgins won his first ranking title at the 1994 Grand Prix and captured 14 more until his form deteriorated following the birth of his first son, Pierce.

Low on confidence, he made alterations to his cue and changed his stance but, aside from the 2002 Irish Masters, the title drought continued. It got so bad that at one point last season Higgins ruefully described himself as an "also ran". Having sunk to 10th in the provisional rankings before Brighton, the 1998 world champion was feeling down but the imminent birth of his second child took his focus off the tournament, to the extent that he was considering pulling out if it arrived during the event.

Higgins was also benefiting from having three quarters of an inch taken off the end of his cue, which has shortened his action and, he claims, eradicated many unforced errors.

News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the iWatch for you? Well, it depends if you want for the fitness tech, or the style
News
Astronauts could be kept asleep for days or even weeks
scienceScientists are looking for a way to keep astronauts in a sleeplike state for days or weeks
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own