John Higgins will do his best to utilise happy memories of playing in Cardiff to aid his bid for success at this week’s Welsh Open. The Scot has triumphed a record five-times in the event down the years, and returns this time as the defending champion.
After a poor run of form in recent weeks, Higgins got a much-needed win on the board in round one on Monday, beating fellow Scot and former world champion Graeme Dott 4-0 with top breaks of 86, 65 and 51.
Aside from reaching the World Championship final last April, where he succumbed in a thriller alongside fellow veteran Mark Williams, it has been a tough spell for Higgins. He admits being back in Cardiff is something he’ll try and use to his advantage this week.
“Coming back to Cardiff I was trying to think of some good memories that I’ve had here, I’ve won it a few times,” said Higgins.
“To win any game for me right now is good, my confidence isn’t at the highest. Graeme struggled a lot with the chances he had, which was great for me.”
Higgins is 15.00 to win a sixth Welsh Open crown and can look forward to facing Welsh veteran Dominic Dale in round two on Wednesday. Dale is 3.60 to win that tussle, with Higgins a strong favourite at 1.29.
Higgins has slipped to 16th on the one-year ranking list and is not yet guaranteed a spot in next month’s Players Championship. He knows that a good week in Wales may make or break his hopes in that regard.
“I’m right on the bubble,” he added. “I felt if I’d have lost [against Dott] then I would have had no chance to qualify for it.”