European Masters: Higgins hits top form to overwhelm Gould in rapid victory

European Masters: Higgins hits top form to overwhelm Gould in rapid victory

Exclusive: White targets tournament win and Crucible return next year

Four-time world champion John Higgins made an inspired return to competitive snooker on Tuesday with a quick-fire 5-1 victory over Martin Gould at the European Masters.

In his first match of the new campaign, the Scot showed all of his renowned matchplay qualities with breaks of 97, 80, 129, 78 and 48 enough to see him advance to the last 64 of the season’s second ranking event.

2020 European Masters finalist Gould produced an immaculate 138 of his own in the third frame, but failed to pot a ball in the final three frames as Higgins finalised victory in only 81 minutes.

While Higgins advances to the finals venue in the German city of Nuremberg next month, Jimmy White suffered a narrow 5-4 qualifying defeat to Ireland’s Aaron Hill, who led 4-1 only to witness the six-time world finalist win three straight frames to force the decider.

World No. 78 Zak Surety produced runs of 135 and 105 in a 5-3 win over British Open champion Ryan Day, while World Championship quarter-finalist Jak Jones lost his all-Welsh tussle 5-2 to Michael White.

Jamie Jones gave Wales another win as he recovered a 4-1 deficit to usurp Yuan Sijun 5-4 by rolling in 98, 118 and 135 in the closing four frames.

Matches involving the top eight seeds – which include world champion Luca Brecel and world No. 1 Ronnie O’Sullivan – have been held over to the finals venue at the KIA Metropol Arena between August 22-27 (LIVE on Eurosport).

Kyren Wilson is defending the title he claimed with a 9-3 win over Barry Hawkins last year.

The rest of the opening round matches will be staged by the Morningside Arena between Tuesday and Saturday with several heavyweights from the world’s top 16 chasing a spot in the last 64 of the season’s second ranking event.

Tuesday’s European Masters results

  • Joe Perry 5-0 Muhammad Asif
  • John Higgins 5-1 Martin Gould
  • Michael White 5-2 Jak Jones
  • Duane Jones 5-1 Liam Graham
  • Zak Surety 5-3 Ryan Day
  • Noppon Saengkham 5-2 Ian Burns
  • Aaron Hill 5-4 Jimmy White
  • Jamie Jones 5-4 Yuan Sijun
  • Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 5-0 Asjad Iqbal
  • Xiao Guodong 5-1 Sydney Wilson
  • Elliot Slessor 5-4 Stan Moody
  • Oliver Brown 5-4 Liam Pullen

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