John Higgins and Elliot Slessor Advance with Impressive Wins in BetVictor Welsh Open Semi-Finals

Picture Credit: World Snooker

In his pursuit of his first ranking title in three years, John Higgins secured one of his most impressive victories of the season, defeating Mark Allen 5-2 to advance to the semi-finals of the BetVictor Welsh Open. The seasoned player, ranked 12th in the world, outperformed his opponent, who held a higher ranking by nine places. This marked Higgins’ continued quest for a sixth Welsh Open title and his first ranking silverware since the 2021 Players Championship. At 48 years old, the legendary Scot has introduced new elements to his game this season, collaborating with a sports psychologist for the first time and making changes to his cue.

Elliot Slessor, aiming to join the recent trend of unexpected winners such as Jordan Brown, Joe Perry, and Robert Milkins, secured a 5-3 victory over Dominic Dale, earning a spot in his third ranking semi-final. Higgins, now into his 84th career ranking event semi-final and the fourth of the season, expressed confidence in his game, having adjusted his cue size to one he used 25 years ago. He looks forward to facing either Gary Wilson or close friend Anthony McGill in Llandudno on Saturday evening.

In the clash with Allen, Higgins capitalized on a missed opportunity by his opponent in the opening frame and went on to dominate, including a superb break of 131 for a 2-0 lead. Although Allen fought back to level the score at 2-2, Higgins took control after the interval, achieving runs of 76 and 85 to secure a 4-2 advantage. Higgins continued his momentum in the fifth frame, building a 60-0 lead, and Allen’s chances dwindled after a failed attempt at a risky red.

Reflecting on his victory, Higgins acknowledged Allen’s elite status as a player and emphasized the significance of his cue adjustment in his recent success. Looking ahead, he expressed a desire to face Anthony McGill in the semi-finals, highlighting the special occasion it would be to compete against his friend.

On the other side, Slessor’s previous semi-final appearances occurred at the 2017 Northern Ireland Open and the 2021 British Open. The 29-year-old from Gateshead is now set for his chance to reach his first final, awaiting the outcome of the match between Luca Brecel and Martin O’Donnell on Saturday afternoon. Slessor, currently ranked 50th in the world, credited his improved game to working with coach Chris Henry this season.

While Dale had aspired to become the first home winner of the Welsh Open title since Mark Williams in 1999, the 52-year-old veteran’s run came to an end due to too many errors. Slessor capitalized on missed opportunities by Dale, securing a 54 clearance and a crucial 128 to take the lead. Despite a late resurgence by Dale, Slessor’s composed runs of 43 and 24 in the final frames proved sufficient to secure the 5-3 victory.

Reflecting on his win, Slessor acknowledged the tight frames and described it as a battle. He expressed delight in his victory, attributing his improved game to working with coach Chris Henry. Slessor also shared the mixed emotions of being away from home for his daughter’s fourth birthday but emphasized the significance of his presence in the tournament for the right reasons. As he looks forward to the possibility of reaching the final, Slessor expressed that having his family there would mean everything to him.

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