JOHN HIGGINS’ defence of his Welsh Open title has come to a dramatic end after losing to a deciding frame against Ding Junhui earlier tonight in their last 16 clash.
The Scot, who has won the ranking event in the last two years, had the match in his grasp at 3-2 ahead when he needed just the pink and black in the sixth frame to secure a quarter-final place.
But the reigning world champion missed the crucial cut on the pink which Ding then potted off the pocket to force the match into a thrilling deciding frame. Then a stylish 86 break under pressure in the last frame earned Ding a precious 4-3 win.
Meanwhile in tonight’s other last 16 encounter, Shaun Murphy sailed through to the last eight of the competition with a 4 – 0 win over Steve Davis. The defeat ended a brilliant run for the 54-year-old who had beaten Ricky Walden and Ali Carter to make it through to the last 16 of the tournament.
Today’s first round matches saw Ronnie O’Sullivan continue where he left off in Berlin with a 4-1 win over Marco Fu. The German Masters winner will face Welshman Mark Williams tomorrow for a place in the quarter-finals.
Mark Allen brushed aside Ken Doherty 4-0 to set up a last 16 match with Stephen Hendry and Stephen Maguire booked his place into the next round beating qualifier Adam Wicheard 4-2.
The game of the day, however, saw Welshman Matthew Stevens win a deciding frame to beat World Snooker Shoot-Out champion Barry Hawkins in a high quality match. Both players impressed but it was the local favourite who grinded down a victory with a break of 60 in the final frame.