In capturing the totesport.com Welsh Open title for a second time last night John Higgins once again demonstrated that he is the best player in the world right now.
The way he raced into a 5-0 lead was an emphatic exhibition of top quality snooker. Ali Carter fought back a little but the comeback never really looked on.
It was Higgins’s second title and fourth final from the last six ranking events. He appeared in the semi-finals of the other two.
He also has the upper hand currently over the game’s other leading force, Ronnie O’Sullivan, having beaten him four times in five meetings this season.
These two 34 year-olds are a distance ahead of the rest in the provisional rankings.
Higgins in particular seems to be playing just as well as he was a decade ago when he, O’Sullivan, Mark Williams and Stephen Hendry were all producing high quality snooker as the sport’s bona fide top four.
Indeed, these four have between them won 15 of the last 20 World Championships and held the no.1 spot in the rankings for the last two decades.
Higgins’s first Welsh Open success ten years ago came before marriage and fatherhood. These happy events undoubtedly caused him to lose some of his focus but, as he said himself, “When I’m on my deathbed I won’t be thinking, ‘I wish I’d spent more time on a snooker table.’”
O’Sullivan will now have to do better than Higgins at the China Open otherwise the Scot will have the no.1 spot sewn up before the Crucible.
His continuing success proves just how good he is. And as world champion, snooker is fortunate to have him.
John is not only a great player but a good guy too: friendly, unaffected by his status and willing to do his bit for the sport as a whole.
Can he win a fourth world title? On this form, absolutely.
And he and O’Sullivan are in opposite halves of the draw for this year’s Crucible event.
Yes, snooker needs new faces but that would be a final to relish.