Higgins masterclass stuns Ding
John Higgins gave a masterclass to stun the Chinese fans as home hero Ding Junhui suffered a 5-0 quarter-final defeat in the Haikou World Open.
Higgins will have rarely played better in a best-of-nine-frames match, and he outscored Ding by an overwhelming points margin of 523-40.
He began with back-to-back centuries of 141 and 113, added a 73 to lead 3-0 and then threatened a maximum break briefly in frame four, potting a near-miraculous long red into the yellow pocket via a deliberate deflection off the brown.
That break ended after seven reds and seven blacks, but Higgins soon had the frame wrapped up, and although Ding briefly threatened to make a fight of the fifth, it was not long before the whitewash was complete.
"I didn't really miss any easy shots and when I did miss I got a bit lucky," said Higgins. "Even at 4-0 down, Ding is still dangerous. He could have done the same to me as I did to him."
Higgins, 37, has played himself into form this week after winning just three matches in total during the last four major tournaments - the UK Championship, Masters, German Masters and Welsh Open.
All Ding could do was admire his opponent's demonstration of why he has four world titles behind him.
Ding said on worldsnooker.com: "He played great today, his potting and safety were both brilliant, and he left me no easy shots.
"I think anyone playing against him today would get beaten up badly. John's a great player with so many titles. I always learn, more or less, every time I play against him."
Defending champion Mark Allen stands in Higgins' way, after a 5-1 victory over Ricky Walden.
Northern Irishman Allen was not at his best, despite the scoreline.
He said: "I'm very happy to still be in the tournament but to be honest I'm only here because my opponents have not played well.
"I'll need to play a lot better against John, he'll be a big favourite as he's back near his best. But I'm not going to let go of my title easily."
Matthew Stevens believes he must have secured a unique place in snooker history after knocking Judd Trump out of the tournament using his third cue of the week.
The 35-year-old Welshman had to lean on his fellow professionals for help when his cue failed to arrive with the rest of his luggage in China.
And after seeing off David Gilbert and Shaun Murphy with borrowed cues, he was finally reunited with his own as it arrived ahead of the Saint David's Day clash with world number one Trump.
Stevens earned a fine 5-3 victory, featuring breaks of 64, 70 and 79.
Stevens said: "Before my first match, if you had told me I would get to the semi-finals I would have laughed at you, because it's hard enough winning matches with your own cue.
"I can't really believe I'm still here. I've won three matches with three different cues and that must be some sort of record."
Neil Robertson awaits Stevens in the semi-finals after the Australian ousted world number two Mark Selby 5-3, with a highest break of 107.
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