Welsh Open champion Jordan Brown brought back down to earth by John Higgins

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Mark Staniforth, PA
·3 min read
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Jordan Brown was served a painful reminder of the reality of top-level snooker after being whitewashed by John Higgins in the first round of the Players Championship in Milton Keynes.

Brown became the lowest-ranked winner of a ranking event in over a quarter of a century when he beat Ronnie O’Sullivan in a final-frame decider in the Welsh Open on Sunday.

But there was no sign of the Antrim 33-year-old repeating the feat as he was thumped 6-0 by the veteran Scot, who got off to an extraordinary start with breaks of 122, 133 and 121 in the first three frames.

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Higgins was on his way to a fourth straight hundred when he ran out of position on the black on a break of 57 in the next frame, which finally enabled shell-shocked Brown to get some table time.

Brown, who had looked largely nerveless during his historic run at Celtic Manor, in which he also accounted for Mark Selby in the quarter-finals, missed a straight-forward frame-ball pink in the fifth.

Higgins briefly threatened to round off his imposing display with a maximum before going astray on 48, but he completed the job to move into the last eight at the expense of the Northern Irishman.

John Higgins
John Higgins kept his composure to move into the quarter-finals (Nigel French/PA)

Higgins said: “I was really happy with that and I don’t think I could have hit the ball any better in those first three frames.

“It was difficult for Jordan. He hit such a high winning the Welsh and he probably came out and felt really flat out there.”

Higgins will face Mark Selby in the last eight after the latter produced a strong finish to see off Welshman Mark Williams 6-4.

Williams appeared to hold the upper-hand at 2-0 and 4-3, but Selby rallied with consecutive breaks of 78, 73 and 64 to wrap up victory.

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Wednesday’s late match saw Barry Hawkins beat Stuart Bingham 6-2 to book his place in the semi-finals.

Bingham had edged out world number one and tournament holder Judd Trump in the last round, but a couple of half-century breaks saw Hawkins move 3-2 ahead.

Hawkins eventually claimed a tense sixth frame – which saw almost 30 minutes pass without a ball being potted as well as encompassing a toilet break – before a clearance of 70 moved him to within sight of victory.

An inadvertent foul in potting a red from a cannon into the pack when building a break allowed Bingham back to the table, but Hawkins recovered to clear from the yellow to edge the eighth frame 61-50 and secure a spot in the last four.