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January 16, 2021

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Ronnie O’Sullivan rates Mark Williams and John Higgins’ title chances

3 min read

John Higgins and Mark Williams are still competing at the top of the game (Picture: Getty Images)

John Higgins and Mark Williams are still more than capable of claiming big titles, but it is ‘really hard’ and is only going to get harder, says Ronnie O’Sullivan.

Higgins, Williams and O’Sullivan are all competing in the Masters this week well over two decades since they all made their debuts in the event.

The Rocket first competed in the wildcard round in 1994, while Higgins and Williams made their first Masters appearances in ’95, a tournament which O’Sullivan won.

Still all riding high in the top 16, the three veterans are clearly still among the best players on the planet, although trophies are few and far between these days for Williams and Higgins.

The Scot has not claimed a title since the 2018 Championship League, while Williams’ last trophy was at the 2018 World Open.

O’Sullivan feels they can both still grab some silverware, and could do at the Masters this week, but things are very difficult for them in their mid-40s, with the trop of Judd Trump, Mark Selby and Neil Robertson winning the majority of events.

‘Mark can [win trophies still]. He definitely can,’ said the Rocket. ‘I think definitely him and John Higgins can still win titles, but it is going to be really hard.

‘The top three are there and are probably going to win 60 or 70 per cent of the tournaments they play in, that we all play in, so it only leaves those other opportunities. And you’ve got Mark Allen, Ding Junhui, Barry Hawkins, Stuart Bingham, a lot of players, and they’re going to win tournaments as well.

‘If you’re an exceptional player you can probably do what [John] Higgins and [Mark] Williams have done, which is compete, but it’s still downhill for them.

‘They’re still not the players that they were, yet they were so good that even their B or C game is allowing them to compete and allowing them to have the odd good tournament.

O’Sullivan faces Ding Junhui in round one at the Masters (Picture: Getty Images)

‘But to do it week in, week out, they just don’t have the physical powers of recovery – and myself included – to be able to be able to do it week in, week out and mentally be strong enough to hold it together match after match.’

Williams gets his campaign underway against Shaun Murphy on Monday night, while Higgins must wait till Wednesday evening to play his first round match against Mark Allen.

Higgins has had some excellent tournament practice in the week before the Masters, playing through three groups of the Championship League, before coming through Group Three to book his spot in the Winners’ Group.

He played 90 frames over the week, 23 matches, which should be ideal preparation for the Wizard of Wishaw.

‘I’m really happy to get through,’ Higgins said after winning Group Three at the Championship League.

‘My main aim coming down here was to get some match practice for the Masters.

‘I’ve got a tough game against Mark Allen, a really tough game, but I’m going to the Masters now with a bit of confidence whereas previous years I maybe went there not feeling too good.’


MORE :
David Gilbert would have been happy to see the Masters scrapped but has returned in style


MORE : Judd Trump and Jack Lisowski out of The Masters after positive coronavirus tests

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