Snooker - Higgins sparkles in China as Trump is tipped out

John Higgins hit back-to-back centuries and the highest break of the tournament - a stirring 141 - in thumping a helpless Ding Junhui 5-0 in the Haikou World Open quarter-finals.

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Snooker - Higgins sparkles in China as Trump is tipped out
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John Higgins

Four-times world champion Higgins has won his last 11 frames at the Hainan Island ranking event, and will face defending champion Mark Allen in the last four on Saturday.

The Northern Irishman gave Ricky Walden short shrift in completing a comfortable 5-1 win with breaks of 58, 44, 72, 62 and 49 too much for the Chester player, who failed to build on a run of 82 in the second frame.

Matthew Stevens produced an immaculate clearance of 79 to close out a surprise 5-3 win over Judd Trump after the world number one ran into serious problems with his cue tip.

Stevens will meet Neil Robertson in the other semi-final after the Melbourne man completed a 5-3 win over world number two Mark Selby to gain a measure of revenge for his 10-6 loss to Selby in January's Masters final.

Higgins has overwhelmed Stuart Bingham 5-0 and home hope Ding by the same margin in his past two outings as he looks to be approaching his very best form before next month's World Championship in Sheffield.

Ding made only a couple of safety errors, but was severely punished with Scotsman Higgins running in 141, 113, 73 and 56 before a detached Ding broke down on 26 - his highest run of the match - to enable Higgins to finish matters off by picking up the first frame after the mid-session interval.

Trump was forced to make do with a change of cue tip after his split before the opening frame of a match that managed to descend into some sort of snooker mayhem.

"A lot of things went wrong today, especially with the tip. It must have got damp," said Trump. "When I was practising it was ok, but then I went into the arena and it was different. It was frustrating and I found it hard to concentrate."

Despite only a paltry crowd attending, a solitary cameraman was ejected for a lack of decorum before a disco light began flashing in the seventh frame that left both men looking bewildered.

Trump broke off in the opening frame before the players headed for a 15-minute break allowed to carry out cue repairs, but it was Stevens who produced the grittier matchplay snooker to reach his first ranking event semi-final since last year's World Championship.

Buoyed by winning the final four frames of his last-16 match with Shaun Murphy on his way to a 5-3 victory, Stevens managed to keep his concentration in completing only his second win over Trump in six meetings.

Stevens was playing with his own cue for the first time in the tournament after borrowing fellow Welshman Mark Williams's cue while his made its way over from the UK.

Trump won the opening frame with an 82, but squandered the chance to pinch the second after Stevens had broken down on 64.

Trump reached 48 and was looking for brown, blue, pink and black, but ran out of position in snookering himself after potting brown to a centre pocket. He failed to escape from the snooker trying to hit the blue as he clipped the pink with Bristol's Trump suddenly needing a snooker that would bury his hopes of claiming the frame.

With Trump trying to adapt to his new cue tip, Stevens continued to focus on his task with knocks of 41 and 70 earning the Welshman a 3-1 lead.

Trump restored parity courtesy of an 85 and 46, but Stevens would not be dissuaded as he scrapped his way to a 4-3 lead by edging a seventh frame that lasted over 40 minutes. Trump managed to retrieve the two snookers he needed to win the frame, but Steven holed yellow to help extinguish his opponent's hopes.

The twice World Championship finalist rolled in a lovely long red to a baulk pocket in the eighth frame before seeing out the match with a timely 79.

"Judd struggled with his tip, but I played well to go 3-1 up. It was hot and sticky out there and the pockets are very tight, but it's the same for everyone and I'm just happy to be in the semis," commented Stevens.

"Before my first match, if you had told me I would get to the semi-finals I would have laughed at you, because it's hard enough winning matches with your own cue. I can't really believe I'm still here. I've won three matches with three different cues and that must be some sort of record."

Elsewhere, Selby ran in 91 to claim the opening frame only for Robertson to move 2-1 clear with a 53 and 107. Selby - wearing a glove to deal with the humidity - regained the lead with a 71 and 73, but his opponent is clearly running into some form this week as 73, 79 and 59 carried the Aussie through to the semis.

Saturday's semi-finals (all times GMT)

Morning session (best of 11 frames) - 6.30am

Neil Robertson v Matthew Stevens

Afternoon session (best of 11 frames) - 11.30am

John Higgins v Mark Allen

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