John Higgins relishing ‘Class of ’92’ Masters showdown with Mark Williams

By Pa Sport Staff
PA Wire

John Higgins is relishing his “Class of ’92” showdown with Mark Williams at the Cazoo Masters after safely negotiating his passage to the second round.

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.”

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