John Higgins produced one of his best performances of the season when beating Mark Selby 6-4 in the first round of the Coral Players Championship in Preston.
It was a sweet victory for Higgins whose disastrous campaign can be largely attributed to losing consecutive finals at the World Championships, the first a defeat at the hands of Selby that the Scot described as still 'hurting badly' months afterwards.
If that loss was one of the catalysts for Higgins' downturn in fortunes, this win could be the springboard that Higgins needs to reignite his season and maybe even his career after a slump in form that had left him contemplating retirement.
It was Higgins who was first out of the blocks, dominating the first frame before taking frames three and four courtesy of breaks of 68 and 58 after Selby had won the second.
Selby returned from the mid-session interval in much better heart, though, and appeared to have taken control of the match when reeling off three frames on the spin, breaks of 67, 76 and 121 putting him in front at 4-3.
Higgins kept his cool, however, and levelled the scores at 4-4 with a run of 58 before edging ahead again with a break of 68 in frame nine.
Higgins was in first in frame ten and though needing a couple of bites of cherry, he always had Selby at arms length as he closed out the match and set up a quarter-finals clash with Ronnie O'Sullivan.
Bingham halts Gilbert charge
Stuart Bingham booked his place in the quarter-finals but he had to withstand a determined challenge from David Gilbert before eventually prevailing 6-4.
Bingham had raced into a 3-1 lead thanks to breaks of 60, 71 and 68 but after Gilbert pinched frame five on the black, he was able to garner some momentum and actually edged in front at 4-3 thanks to a run of 55.
It was to prove a false dawn, though, as Bingham won three frames on the bounce, a break of 57 in frame ten allowing him to close out the match.
Judd Trump progressed to the semi-finals, after recovering from a losing position to win 6-5 against Jack Lisowski.
- Mark Selby 4-6 John Higgins
- David Gilbert 4-6 Stuart Bingham
- Jack Lisowski 5-6 Judd Trump