John Higgins relishing ‘Class of ’92’ Masters showdown with Mark Williams
The Scot, making a record 28th appearance at the invitation event at Alexandra Palace eased past Zhao Xintong 6-2 to book a clash with fellow 46-year-old Williams, who disposed of defending champion Yan Bingtao on Sunday.
Asked about his rivalry with Williams and Ronnie O’Sullivan – the trio having claimed 13 world titles between them since emerging from the ranks in the early 1990s – Higgins told BBC Sport: “I think when we used to play, maybe 10 years ago, maybe there was more rivalry.
“I can’t speak for the other two guys, but when I go out and I’m across from Mark and Ronnie, there’s a sense of now you’re proud that you’re still there, you’re still competing.
“I look up to those guys, I think they’re two amazing players. I’ll just go out on Thursday night and hopefully we’ll have a great match.”
Higgins cruised to victory over an out-of-sorts Zhao, opening with a break of 100 to take the first frame and responding to his opponent’s 128 clearance in the second by taking a 4-1 lead including a visit of 104 in the fifth.
UK champion Zhao reduced the deficit, but Higgins took a scrappy seventh frame before closing out the win with a break of 78, later citing his recent weight-loss as a factor in his performance.
He said: “I’ve never done any fitness work in my whole life, my whole career, and I could feel in the last few years really the nerves getting to me a little bit more.
“But now with just doing a little bit of fitness and losing a bit of weight, it helps 100 per cent.”