Higgins desperate to reignite season

Four-time world champion John Higgins has gone “back to basics” in an attempt to rescue his flagging season.

John Higgins
John Higgins

The Scotsman started the campaign well, winning a European Tour event in Bulgaria in June, before losing to world No 1 Neil Robertson in the final of the Wuxi Classic in China.

Since then, the 38-year-old has not been beyond the last 16 in any tournament and Higgins blames tinkering with his technique and cue changes for his slump.

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Now, ahead of the williamhill.com UK Championship, which Higgins has won three times, the Scot is desperate to reignite his season. “I have been faffing about with technique this season and trying different cues,” he said.

“Now I’m trying to get back to basics and it feels better. Throughout my career, even when I was winning a lot of titles, I’ve always had the feeling that the grass would be greener if I could improve my technique or my cue.

“I know my faults and I usually know how to correct them. But there have been times during tournaments when I’ve changed something and it hasn’t worked and then I don’t know how to fix it, which is a horrible feeling.”

The £700,000 tournament at the York Barbican runs from November 26 to December 8 and will feature 128 players all starting in the same round for the first time.

“The UK Championship is a huge tournament and I would love to do well in York this year,” he said. “It’s good to have a new format with everyone starting in the same round.

“You face new opponents and it gives a chance for more players to compete at the venue and get experience playing on TV.”

Higgins believes that Ronnie O’Sullivan, Sheffield-based Ding Junhui – who has won three successive ranking tournaments – and Australian Robertson will be the men to beat in York.

“Ronnie O’Sullivan is hard to gauge because he doesn’t play that many tournaments, but in the big events like this he is always one of the favourites,” said Higgins.

“Neil Robertson is world No 1 by a distance and the rankings don’t lie. And Ding Junhui is just in fantastic form at the moment.

“He has matured a lot as a person and a player in recent months. He is the complete package on the table and he has unbelievable talent,” added Higgins, who plays Malta’s Alex Borg in his opening match next Friday.

Mark Selby will open the defence of his UK title against Shane Castle, a 15-year-old from Southampton, while Bradford’s 18-year-old Dylan Mitchell faces a daunting match against world No 1 Robertson. Ding will begin his quest to win a fourth consecutive ranking title against Middlesbrough’s Antony Parsons.

Tickets for the williamhill.com UK Championship are on sale now - for details call 0844 854 2757 or visit www.worldsnooker.com/tickets.