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.

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
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: Telesales & Customer Service Executives - Outbound & Inbound

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'