John Higgins cleared a four-frame deficit to advance to the semifinals of the Cazoo Tour Championship with a battling 10-9 win over top seed Zhao Xintong.
The four-time world champion, whose place in the elite eight-man event in Llandudno was only confirmed when Kyren Wilson lost in the final of the Gibraltar Open on Saturday, looked flustered for most of his quarter-final on Monday.
Zhao rallied three centuries as the British Championship winner opened an 8-4 lead, but Higgins dug deep to grind five straight frames and move within a remarkable win.
Zhao hit back to take the match to a decider, but Higgins showed his experience to set up a date with Judd Trump or Luca Brecel for the final four.
Higgins told ITV: “I can’t believe I won this. I was embarrassed at 8-4.
“I sat there and thought, ‘He’s playing like the world-class player that he is and I’m playing like a club player.
“I didn’t feel like coming back at all but then he started missing a few and I started hitting a little bit better.
“I was still totally off, but I dragged him down to my level. So, without a shadow of a doubt, I won.”
The first four frames were shared, but Zhao, entering the event as the top seed, looked better and took over the next three to take control with breaks of 124 and 108 along the way.
Higgins won a close eighth frame to reduce the deficit to 5-3 by the end of the afternoon session and went on to win the first of the evening.
Still, Zhao looked like the more likely winner as he rolled the next three frames, tapping in his third century of the match with a 128 clearance in the 11th frame and adding 71 in the 12th frame.
However, Higgins refused to throw in the towel and fought back to 8-7 before leveling to 8-8 thanks to his highest break of the game, 83.
Zhao showed signs of nervousness as Higgins won a fifth straight frame after a 59 run, but the Chinese player reacted strongly to set the decisive game with a break of 64.
The final frame was tense, with safety playing the main focus, but Higgins steadily built a lead over the course of several visits to the table and eventually finished the job.
https://www.independent.ie/sport/other-sports/snooker/i-dragged-him-down-to-my-level-john-higgins-all-over-the-place-in-comeback-cazoo-tour-championship-win-41498112.html “I dragged him down to my level” – John Higgins “all over the place” in comeback of winning Cazoo Tour Championship