Higgins is Champion of Champions

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John Higgins won his second consecutive title by beating Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-7 in the final of the Dafabet Champion of Champions in Coventry.

The Scotsman took the £100,000 top prize, making it a highly lucrative fortnight following a £200,000 winner’s cheque at another inivtation tournament – the Evergrande China Championship – last week.

It was O’Sullivan’s first defeat in the four year history of the Dafabet Champion of Champions – he was a winner of the event in 2013 and ’14 and didn’t compete last year. The Englishman was leading 5-4 after the afternoon session, but Higgins got the better of the evening exchanges, levelling the match at 7-7 and then pulling away with three frame winning breaks to take victory.

The afternoon session saw eight of the nine frames decided by breaks over 60. Following the restart in the evening Higgins seized the initiative as breaks of 60 and 63 saw him take the lead at 6-5.

O’Sullivan levelled with a 74 before Higgins regained his lead at 7-6 with a run of 83. The Rocket though, produced a magnificent run of 130 – the highest of the match – to once again leave the match finely poised at 7-7.

But O’Sullivan scored just one point in the next three frames as Higgins swept to victory with runs of 76, 86, 40 and 58.

“I am delighted to put my name on the list of Champion of Champions winners,” said Higgins. “It has been a good two weeks and you have to roll with it when it is going for you.

“I can’t speak for Ronnie but I was buzzed up coming into play. I just wish my old man was still here to see me take part in these finals,” Higgins added, referring to his father John who passed away in 2011.

“I thought I had missed the boat at 5-4, he missed a couple but I never took advantage. I was thinking, is that going to give him confidence and then he will go on a roll? I stuck with it and felt great coming into tonight.

“When I play like that, there is no greater feeling. You get in the balls and think you are going to clear up at every chance. I missed a couple at the end but potted a good long red to swing it back my way and finish it off. There is no better feeling than doing it in front of a packed audience, playing against somebody as good as Ronnie.”

O’Sullivan, still seeking his first title of the season, was gracious in defeat. He said: “Well played to John, he played fantastic all week – he was by far the best player of the week. I tried to hang on in there today and make a game of it. John is on a roll at the minute, he is really starting to play as he did a few years ago, so for me he is probably the best player in the world at the moment with the way he is playing.

“I need to find some consistency if I am going to win tournaments again. It is ok playing in spells but you get found out playing players like John. Against most players I might have had a chance of winning but against world-class opposition I made too many mistakes.”