Superb Higgins sweeps Zhao aside

Zhao Xintong beat John Higgins (above) in the last 32 of the UK Championship in November
Venue: Alexandra Palace, London Dates: 9-16 January
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button, BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app

John Higgins moved into the quarter-finals of the Masters with an emphatic 6-2 victory over UK champion Zhao Xintong at Alexandra Palace.

Higgins began with a superb century and, although Zhao responded with 128, the Scot then took control.

A break of 104 gave Higgins a 4-1 lead and he rounded off his win with a composed 78 to gain revenge for his defeat by Zhao at the UK Championship.

Four-time world champion Higgins will face Mark Williams on Thursday.

While 46-year-old Higgins is making a record 28th appearance at the Masters, first-round opponent Zhao, 24, was the only debutant in the 16-man field.

Higgins, who led 5-3 before losing 6-5 to Zhao at the UK Championship, made sure there would be no repeat with a combination of exemplary safety and wonderful potting.

He has undertaken a fitness regime and slimmed down to get into shape this season and has reached four finals.

Higgins looked in fine touch throughout, showing he could score heavily and dominating the scrappier frames to nullify Zhao’s fluent style.

More to follow.

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