SNOOKER: Harold humbles Higgins

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Author: Mark Pierson
Date: Feb. 6, 2001
Publisher: Independent Digital News and Media Limited
Document Type: Article
Length: 472 words

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DAVE HAROLD made it third time lucky at Wembley yesterday, beating the former champion John Higgins 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals of the pounds 650,000 Benson and Hedges Masters.

Harold had lost on his two previous visits to the capital and had come out second best against the Scotsman on five occasions.

"I used to think that John was on a different level to me," admitted the Potteries professional. "So, you can imagine I am chuffed with this result. It's been about 10 years coming ever since I first played him as a professional.

"But to be honest I didn't play to my best and neither did John. He missed a few and I could sense he was off his game.

"And from 3-3 I hardly missed a ball. As I was potting the last few balls I could hardly believe what was happening. It was like a dream because this tournament and the venue means so much to all the players. It's on a par, if not better, than the Crucible at Sheffield."

Harold, who now plays John Parrott or Stephen Lee for a place in the last four, is assured of pounds 30,000. "I've not had a pay day like this for a while but to be honest I'm just glad to be winning matches again," he added.

Higgins has had a miserable time of it since making his Wembley debut in 1995. Despite winning the tournament in 1998 and reaching the final in 1995, he has lost his opening game on five occasions. "I just cannot seem to settle at this place," admitted the world No 2. "I don't feel at ease.

"Even when I won here I didn't play anywhere near to my best. A few years ago I could get through not playing my best but my `B' game is not there anymore.

"It's something I will have to address," added the Scot. Higgins was only ahead once - at 2-1 - and though he levelled at 3-3 with a break of 55, his highest of the contest, he could not throw off the shackles.

The world No 13 Harold, who earlier had made runs of 86 and 55, finished off with efforts of 52, 67 and 71 to secure one of the best wins of his career.

On Sunday night Jimmy White, who was only guaranteed a 20th successive Masters appearance due to the sponsors' generosity, defeated the Ulsterman Joe Swail 6-1.

The 38-year-old Londoner, who now plays Ronnie O'Sullivan for a place in the last eight, finished off with a 136 break and then collected a commemorative plaque to mark his two decades at the famous venue.

Shaun Murphy made a memorable debut at Wembley with a 6-1 win over Marco Fu. The 18-year-old from Irthlingborough was to face Stephen Hendry in the next round.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A70011283