I’m sure John Higgins didn’t mind last night’s second semi-final going the distance, but the world no.1 is playing so well that he would still have been a clear favourite regardless.
After a wobble against Jack Lisowski in the first round, Higgins has imposed himself on the tournament. He is focused, composed and seemingly relaxed as he targets his 23rd ranking title.
It’s the first all-Scottish final in a ranking tournament since Stephen Hendry beat Graeme Dott to win the 2005 Malta Cup.
Higgins would become the first player to retain a ranking title since Ronnie O’Sullivan won the 2005 Welsh Open (Neil Robertson won the 2009 Grand Prix and then the 2010 World Open but they were different tournaments, even though he received the same trophy).
Stephen Maguire got his reward last night because he was positive and went for his shots against Mark Selby.
He pulled out several recovery pots at vital times and went on the attack, taking the game to Selby.
This is Maguire’s first ranking event final since he won the 2008 China Open. He had lost in six major semi-finals – four ranking and two Masters – since.
Maguire is a great competitor and fierce match-player who practises regularly with Higgins.
But he will have to produce his A-game and then some to win today.