Anthony McGill ended a run of four consecutive defeats against John Higgins with a 6-0 whitewash to reach the quarter-finals of the Ladbrokes Players Championship, while defending champion Judd Trump saw off Stephen Maguire 6-4.
Higgins has been in fine form this season, winning two ranking events and earning more money than any player other than Ronnie O’Sullivan and Mark Williams. He beat McGill at the Indian Open, Champion of Champions, the Masters and the Romanian Masters, but today the tables were turned.
World number 16 McGill goes through to face Shaun Murphy in Llandudno on Friday afternoon (tickets still available, click here for details).
In fact McGill was not at his best today but took advantage of numerous uncharacteristic errors from his fellow Scot. A break of 64 gave McGill the opening frame and he won the next two on the colours to make it 3-0. A run of 57 extended his lead before the interval.
Both players had chances in the fifth frame and it came down to a safety battle on the brown, McGill slotting in an excellent long pot for 5-0. World number five Higgins was on a break of 48 in the next when he ran out of position, and in frustration missed a near-impossible red. McGill kept his composure to clear with 61.
“It’s a strange result, especially as the way I played wasn’t incredible,” said 27-year-old McGill, who won two ranking titles last season and is chasing the third of his career this week. “We both played around the same level but I won all of the close frames. I know I’d lost four times to John this season but he’d probably do that against most players, that’s how good he is. It’s not a bad thing to lose to him because I always learn something and come away from it a better player. I tend to get more confidence from my performances than my results, although I’m delighted to beat John.”
Murphy is suffering from back and neck injuries, and McGill joked: “I’ll get him some extra hard pillows to make his neck even sorer – I’ll need all the help I can get! He has been one of the top players for well over a decade but I’ll give it my best shot.”
Higgins: “My concentration was all over the place.”
Higgins said: “It was a bad day at the office, my concentration was all over the place. My game wasn’t there and I didn’t put up any resistance. It’s disappointing because it’s a very big tournament. In the last couple of years I haven’t had many performances where there was just nothing there.”
Trump came through a tough battle against Maguire to set up a quarter-final clash with Neil Robertson on Thursday afternoon. World number three Trump is aiming to win the ninth ranking title of his career and to successfully defend a title for the second time this season having done so at the European Masters.
The Bristolian was off to a flying start today as breaks of 128 and 78 made it 2-0 within 13 minutes. Maguire hit back with a 129 then Trump’s 117 made it 3-1.
The high scoring continued after the interval as Maguire compiled runs of 58 and 102 to level at 3-3. The next two frames – scrappy affairs – were shared to leave the contest poised at 4-4. In the ninth, Maguire trailed by 33 points when he completely missed the last red while trying to play safe, and he conceded the frame in annoyance. Trump went on to clinch victory in the next with a 76.
“I felt good at the start, then started missing chances after the interval,” said 28-year-old Trump. “I’m happy with my game and this is an important tournament for me. I enjoy being in Llandudno, I always feel relaxed here. Neil Robertson will be a similar challenge, he plays a similar game to Stephen but scores a bit heavier when he’s playing well.”
The result means Maguire needs a deep run at the China Open – probably at least to the semi-finals – to have a chance of automatic qualification for the World Championship. Click here for the Race to the Crucible.