Higgins sets up Robertson showdown in Tour Championship final
John Higgins will play Neil Robertson in the Tour Championship final after a 10-7 victory over Luca Brecel in Llandudno on Saturday.
The Wizard avenged his 9-5 defeat by the Bullet in the Scottish Open final – also played at Venue Cymru last December – to reach his sixth showpiece of the season.
Higgins overturned an 8-4 deficit to edge out UK champion Zhao Xintong in the opening round, and endured another slow start as he fell 3-0 behind.
Though far from his fluent best, the four-time World champion reeled off six successive frames – only to be pegged back to 7-7 – but regained his composure to win the last three and seal the deal.
He told ITV Sport: “It was a funny game. At 3-0 behind, I thought I was going to get blown away again [like in the Scottish Open final].
“Similar to the Xintong game, I needed [Luca] to miss a couple for me to get back into it. At 5-3 [up], I was over the moon; I’d have taken 5-3 behind with the way the match started.
“I came in tonight and had a couple of chances to really extend the lead; I was only getting to 40 and then breaking down, which you can’t afford to do at this level.
“Luca started playing the same way he did at the start of the game. When it went 7-7, I’m thinking I might have just thrown the chance away. I’m over the moon to get through.”
Fresh from defeating Judd Trump on his Tour Championship debut, Brecel built on that momentum with breaks of 64, 105 and 78 establishing a 3-0 lead.
At this point, Higgins had potted just nine balls, while amassing a mere 26 points.
Nevertheless, the Scotsman stopped the rot by winning the next two frames on the blue and black respectively, before runs of 54, 52 and 108 saw him complete the turnaround and take a 5-3 advantage into the evening.
However, the clinical edge deserted the 46-year-old upon the resumption of play; breaking down on 52 and 44 in frames 12 and 13, allowing his opponent to reduce the deficit to 7-6 with runs of 69 and 68.
Suddenly, all the momentum was with the Scottish Open champion, who levelled with a brilliant break of 108.
But Higgins dusted himself down to scrap out the next two frames and move to the brink of victory, which he secured with a contribution of 67.
Although delighted to reach the 55th ranking final of his glittering career, the world number six knows he will have to raise his game against an in-form Robertson.
“I’m going to be a big underdog with the way Neil’s playing; he’s playing unbelievable stuff,” he added.
“I need to raise my game. If I play the same way as I played the first two games, I’ll be blown away by Neil.
“The good thing is I’ve got to clear my mind and up my game to as good as it can be to stand a chance of winning.”