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Brilliant Luca Brecel claims second ranking title at the Scottish Open

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Brecel reigned in Llandudno 12 months ago

Luca Brecel ended a four-year wait for a ranking title by defeating John Higgins 9-5 to claim the Scottish Open crown on Sunday.

Brecel, who first triumphed at the 2017 China Championship, atoned for his defeat in the UK Championship final seven days ago by pulling off a dominant win over Higgins to claim the £70,000 title in Llandudno.

Brecel stormed into a 6-2 lead at the end of the first session and withstood a late revival from an otherwise out of sorts Higgins to subject the Scot to his fourth final defeat of the season.

The victory moves the Belgian ace back into the world’s top 16 going into next week’s World Grand Prix.

“I said to John at the end that it’s an honour to play him, so to beat him in the final is just a dream,” Brecel told Eurosport.

“I think I did well in the last frame because I was absolutely gone. I’m just happy to get over the line eventually.

“Winning this after losing the UK [Championship] is probably a bigger achievement than winning the UK in itself.

“I’m very happy with the way I came to this tournament. I was motivated, I felt relaxed.

“I still can’t believe I’ve won it, actually.”

Brecel capitalised on an edgy Higgins in the early exchanges to coast into a 3-0 lead with a 96 break along the way, before the Scot got off the mark prior to the interval.

A break of 61 saw Brecel regain a three-frame advantage, and after Higgins went in-off with the black in frame six, the youngster stepped in to snatch it and lead 5-1.

Higgins stopped the rot courtesy of a 70 break, but only for Brecel to respond with his first century of the tournament – a 104 – to make it 6-2.

The one-way traffic continued after the restart as Brecel added consecutive breaks of 79 and 64 to move within a frame of glory.

Higgins, however, dug deep to reel off three frames in a row with breaks of 73 and 53 in the process to apply the pressure.

Brecel, though, held firm and duly killed off the match in style with a magnificent 127 clearance, ending with a blind pot on the black.

Defeat for Higgins marks his fifth in a televised final this year, adding to The Masters, Northern Ireland Open, English Open and Champion of Champions.

“He was too good,” admitted Higgins. “The style he plays the game, we’re lucky we’ve got these young superstars.

“I’m sure there’ll be many more to come, he was fantastic.

“It’s absolute folly that Luca’s not going even to be at The Masters. The Scottish Open champion and runner-up in the UK, the way he’s playing he could go on and become the Grand Prix champion and he won’t be at The Masters.

“I think something’s got to be changed, he would be a fantastic asset at Ally Pally and it’s just a shame, but hopefully in the future that won’t happen again.

“Luca just put me on the back foot and it was a pleasure to watch him. I’ve watched him in the last ten years growing up to be the player he is.

“He won a few tournaments then he went missing for a couple of years but I think this is him here for good now.”