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John Higgins “too good a player not to be winning tournaments” insists Ronnie O’Sullivan

Jonathan Davies in The Masters

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High-scoring John Higgins sees off Ronnie O’Sullivan in Masters epic

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John Higgins and Yan Bingtao set up final show-down at The Masters

O'Sullivan sets the record straight (credit:PA Images)

O’Sullivan praises Higgins’ performance (credit:PA Images)

Ronnie O’Sullivan believes John Higgins is “too good a player” not to be picking up titles and is backing his rival to claim a third Masters crown following their epic Quarter-Final clash.

O’Sullivan was beaten 6-3 by Scottish stalwart Higgins in a thrilling encounter which featured a record-equalling five consecutive centuries.

Having only missed a handful of shots and compiled two of those tons, O’Sullivan was unfortunate to come up against an inspired Higgins at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes.

It was a vintage display of break-building by ‘The Wizard of Wishaw’ – who produced the highest break of the tournament along the way courtesy of a stunning 145 total clearance.

Appearing in a record-equalling 27th Masters, world number six Higgins has lifted snooker’s most prestigious invitational title on only two occasions – in 1999 and 2006.

Meanwhile, you have to go back to the 2018 Welsh Open for the most recent of his 30 ranking titles to date.

The 45-year-old is set for his ninth appearance at the Semi-Final stage of this competition, where he will face David Gilbert on Saturday.

A fellow member of the well-established ‘Class of 92’, O’Sullivan says that seeing Higgins complete a hat-trick of Masters titles would be welcomed from all corners of the game.

But with Gilbert, Yan Bingtao and reigning champion Stuart Bingham potentially standing in his way, ‘The Rocket’ insists that his long-time rival must maintain his current performance levels in order to do so.

“He’s going to have to play like that in the next two matches,” said seven-time Masters champion O’Sullivan.

“Some of these guys left in the tournament are really hungry, so he’s got to maintain that if he wants to go on and win it.

“I’d love to see him go and win it because he’s an all-time great and far too good a player not to be winning tournaments.

“For snooker and for John, everyone would be happy to see him win it.”

Assessing his own performance, O’Sullivan added: “I just made too many unforced errors.

“The breaks look good on the score-sheet but when you miss in among the balls and play lapse safeties, it will cost you against John and you are not going to win. I’m disappointed I couldn’t cut out the errors.

“Centuries look good on paper but with John playing like that, with his potting and break-building, he is going to outscore you and was far too good for me tonight.”