`Hurricane' all blown out

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The Independent Online

Alex "Hurricane" Higgins, the former world snooker champion, was declared to be too exhausted and unfit to play on the opening day of the World Matchplay Championship in Ballymena yesterday.

His fellow Irishman John McIntyre received a walkover into round two after Higgins' manager, Doug Perry, faxed the organisers to say his player was "unfit to take part" because he was suffering from "complete exhaustion".

Mike Russell, the winner of the UK title at Wigan last week, opened his defence of the title with a comfortable 4-0 victory over Russia's only professional, Ashot Potikyan.

The world No 3, Peter Gilchrist, also reached the last 16 with a 4-1 victory over Nalin Patel.