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Ssb - higgins out, robertson through, max prize reinstated

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  • Ssb - higgins out, robertson through, max prize reinstated

    John Higgins has won 24 ranking titles but only four outside the UK and would admit himself that he is not the best traveller.

    His defeat to Matt Selt was unexpected, particularly as he had been 4-1 up, but Higgins, who had flown from Thailand to Australia the night before the afternoon match, looked exhausted.

    Still, credit to Selt who is through to the last 16 of a ranking event for the first time in his career. His reward is a meeting with Stephen Hendry tonight.

    Ali Carter joined Higgins on the plane home after losing 5-3 to Marcus Campbell and sounded pretty pleased about it.

    “Don’t get me wrong, it’s great we have all these tournaments but I can’t wait to get home to be honest,” said Carter, who had also played in the Wuxi Classic in China and World Cup in Bangkok.

    “I’ve a boy who is 18 months old and I've not seen him for three weeks so that's more important to me to get home and be with my family.

    “It’s been a long time away and by the time I got here my heart wasn’t in it and that showed in my performance. If I had just come here and not done the other two then it would’ve been different.”

    Neil Robertson spends up to nine months of the year away from his family and Aussie friends but, for once, gets to play in front of them this week.

    He made a good start, beating Nigel Bond 5-2 on a table as fast as an ice rink. It wasn’t world beating stuff from Robertson but there were certainly no signs of him feeling any pressure of being the local favourite.

    Some more big guns enter the fray today: Mark Williams, Mark Selby and Ding Junhui.

    Ding’s match against Stuart Bingham will be the live TV attraction in the evening session and is of course a rematch of their last 16 encounter at last season’s World Championship, in which Ding came from 12-9 down to win 13-12.

    Meanwhile, some good news for those – I suspect the majority – who mourned the loss of the 147 bonus prize.

    It’s back, but with a twist: £5,000 per ranking tournament rolled over if nobody makes one.

    This was an idea myself and others floated and one used by Barry Hearn’s PDC in darts for nine dart checkouts.

    Common sense appears to have prevailed. Making a 147 remains a special achievement and a financial prize helps to recognise that.