John Higgins stuns Mark Williams to reach Northern Ireland quarter-finals
John Higgins produced a magnificent turnaround from 3-0 down to stun Mark Williams 4-3 and advance to the Northern Ireland Open quarter-finals in Belfast.
Higgins had lost each of his four previous encounters with fellow Class of 92 member Williams, including an 18-16 the 2018 World Championship final.
Another reverse was looming large for the Wizard, who fell 3-0 behind at the Waterfront Hall on Thursday.
Despite an ongoing struggle with gout, Williams produced a break of 69 and a neat 53 clearance from 56-24 down in frame three to close in on a commanding victory.
However, Higgins dug deep; edging a narrow fourth frame before a wonderful break of 110 cut the deficit to 3-2.
He then recovered from 53-0 down in the sixth, before clearing from yellow to pink to force a decider, which he controlled to complete a remarkable win.
Next up for Higgins is Championship League winner David Gilbert, who hit breaks of 115, 71 and 68 in his 4-2 victory over World champion Mark Selby.
Elsewhere, Ronnie O’Sullivan came out on the wrong end of a deciding frame, going down 4-3 against Yan Bingtao.
Eyeing a fourth successive final at this event, O’Sullivan twice led before trailing 3-2, only to produce a stunning 73 clearance from 71-0 down in frame six to set up a dramatic climax.
However, Masters champion Yan held his nerve to set up a showdown with Mitchell Mann, who defeated Lyu Haotian 4-1.
Reigning champion Judd Trump was pegged back twice by former European Masters winner Jimmy Robertson before prevailing a 4-3 winner.
The Ace will face Mark Allen in the quarter-finals. Despite seeing a 3-1 lead slip, the home favourite produced a timely break of 69 to scrape past Stephen Maguire.
Shaun Murphy hit breaks of 110, 71 and 63 in a commanding 4-1 win over Stuart Bingham and will now play Ricky Walden, who edged out Jackson Page 4-3.
Earlier in the day, Neil Robertson and Jack Lisowski bowed out in round three, losing to Walden and Page respectively.
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Northern Ireland Open 2021 Results
Thursday October 14
Mark Allen 4-1 Matthew Stevens
Liam Highfield 2-4 Stephen Maguire
Neil Robertson 1-4 Ricky Walden
Jackson Page 4-0 Jack Lisowski
Ronnie O’Sullivan 3-4 Yan Bingtao
Lyu Haotian 1-4 Mitchell Mann
Shaun Murphy 4-1 Stuart Bingham
John Higgins 4-3 Mark Williams
Judd Trump 4-3 Jimmy Robertson
Mark Allen 4-3 Stephen Maguire
Jackson Page 3-4 Ricky Walden
Mark Selby 2-4 David Gilbert