Snooker: Higgins forced to justify his reputation

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The Independent Online
Snooker's man of the moment, John Higgins, repelled a forceful challenge from John Parrott yesterday to stay on course for back-to-back world ranking event titles in Newport.

The Scot, who hammered Parrott 9-4 in the final of last month's German Open, held his nerve to reach the semi-finals of the Regal Welsh Open with a 5-4 victory.

"I feel I am playing better than I've done for ages, but John is producing the best snooker in the world right now and he's extremely tough to beat," Parrott said.

Higgins, who tackles Nottingham's Anthony Hamilton or last year's runner- up, the Romford left-hander Mark King, for a place in the final took the first frame on the black and moved 2-0 ahead before Parrott hit back. Runs of 75 and 84 carried the 1991 world and UK champion on to level terms and provided the first indication that a tight finish was in prospect.

Higgins, with a 132 total clearance and a 74 break, and Parrott, thanks to contributions of 103 and 74, shared four high quality frames to force a decider, which also developed into a high-scoring affair. Higgins opened with a run of 52, fortunately snookered Parrott on a red over a top-corner pocket and stepped in with a clinching 60.

While agreeing with Parrott's assessment of his current status within the game, Higgins made it clear he is not complacent.

"I suppose results speak for themselves and I probably am the most consistent player around at the moment but things can change so quickly. Only a couple of months ago I was really struggling," Higgins said.

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