Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Allen’s bid is shot to bits

Mark Allen’s Grand Prix hopes were crushed in cruel fashion by John Higgins yesterday.

The defending champion was at his ruthless best as he hammered Allen 5-1 to stroll into the semi-finals in Glasgow.

A 66 break in the opening frame suggested the “Wizard of Wishaw” was in the same imperious form that accounted for Ronnie O'Sullivan in the previous round, and he clinched the second in two visits before a 72 break saw him open up a 3-0 lead.

Allen battled back, clearing the colours to take frame four and knocking in a break of 73 in the next — but a missed red off the rest let Higgins back in to snatch the frame.

And he won frame six with a single visit of 96 to finish the match.

The Antrim man showed resolve during the contest but Higgins was simply too hot to handle.

Australian Neil Robertson was even more impressive as he strung together two centuries in beating practice partner Joe Perry by the same scoreline.

Perry started with a run of 60 en route to winning the first frame, but Robertson immediately levelled and did not look back.

A superb century with the balls in awkward positions extended his lead, and he followed that effort with a 67 to move 4-1 up.

His display was given a fitting finale with a second century, 103, as he secured victory and joined Higgins in the last four.

Higgins, meanwhile, offered some advice to compatriot Stephen Hendry, who was woefully out of sorts in a 5-2 defeat by Mark Williams on Thursday.

“He doesn't really help himself, he locks himself away in his house and practises on his own. I've never done that and I don't think you can,” Higgins insisted.

“You think you're hitting the ball well but nobody misses a ball in practice if you're playing on your own.

“ I don't think that's any indication of how well you're playing, so that's maybe something he'll have to sort out, but it's only him that can do it.”

There were several uncharacteristic errors from both players throughout the match, but it made for an interesting contest.

And Hendry felt compelled to apologise to his fans.

“That sort of performance sums up where I’m at,” he said. “I know I can still play the game but after a display like that no-one will believe you.

“I can only apologise to the fans, to the cameramen, to anyone who witnessed that.”

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