Snooker: White puts formbook to shame

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A resurgent Jimmy White surprised the in-form John Higgins with a 5-1 win to reach the quarter-finals of the European Open in Valletta yesterday.

The 39-year-old Londoner had not won a match since February while Higgins, the world No 3, headed to Malta having already won the Champions Cup, Regal Masters and Stan James British Open titles this season. But the form book counted for little as White produced one of his best performances in years to send the 1998 world champion out of the tournament.

White, 16th in the latest provisional ranking list, needs every point he can muster to remain in the élite top 16. "I was shaking during the first two frames because I'm under so much pressure but I held myself together and I'm pleased with that," White said. "I'm fighting for my career. Every game brings a massive amount of stress because my top place is under threat."

White won a scrappy opener and mustered a 62 clearance when Higgins missed a blue on 48 in the second. A run of 52 gave White the third before Higgins averted the whitewash by winning the last frame before the interval. Higgins then left the last red in the jaws of a pocket in the fifth frame and White cleared to the pink to lead 4-1 before clinching victory in the sixth when Higgins bungled a safety on the green.

"I outplayed him," said White, who had previously beaten Higgins only three times in 14 meetings. "My safety play was very good and it's a great result."