INDIAN OPEN | Other Sports

Higgins edges Vafaei in thriller

Master at work: John Higgins, unfazed by Hossein Vafaei’s comeback, clinched the decider.   | Photo Credit: Jipson Sikhera

For almost three frames, Hossein Vafaei could only sit and admire four-time World champion John Higgins during their second round match of the fifth Indian Open snooker tournament at the Grand Hyatt, Bolghatty Island, on Friday.

Defending champion Higgins, who went on to win the match 4-3 and move into the pre-quarterfinal, raced to a 3-0 lead before Vafaei suddenly woke up and realised that he had a job to do.

The 24-year-old, the first Iranian to play professional snooker, had lost two years after winning the 2011 World amateur title in Bengaluru owing to visa issues and had to miss the pro tour in England.

“Those were two golden years of my life,” said Vafaei, the World No. 33, who stormed back with a century break in the fourth frame. Inspired, he went on to win three frames in a row to draw level.

However, World No. 4 Higgins, the master that he is, shut out the Iranian in the final frame with a 128 break to clinch the thriller.

Meanwhile, England’s Chris Wakelin shocked Shaun Murphy 4-2.

The results (second round): John Higgins (Sco) bt Hossein Vafaei (Irn) 4-3 (69-23, 71-22, 73-30, 1-106(106), 45-82, 1-71, 128(128)-0); Chris Wakelin (Eng) bt Shaun Murphy (Eng) 4-2 (13-85, 65-28, 16-109, 58-23, 72-18, 74-60); Anthony Hamilton (Eng) bt Zhao Xintong (Chn) 4-2 (80-50, 72-17, 77-7, 5-77, 48-68, 75-44); Sam Craigie (Eng) bt Peter Ebdon (Eng) 4-1 (63-57, 112-1, 67-12, 0-108(108), 76-1); Graeme Dott (Sco) bt Thepchaiya Un-Nooh (Tha) 4-1 (73-48, 13-59, 78-25, 77-4, 68-32); Lyu Haotian (Chn) bt Luke Simmonds (Eng) 4-3 (0-83, 0-61, 119(114)-5, 67-14, 49-61, 71-46, 69-55); Li Hang (Chn) bt Joe Perry (Eng) 4-2 (77-30, 0-102, 2-94, 70-31, 126(109)-0, 120(116)-22); Lu Ning (Chn) bt Yan Bingtao (Chn) 4-0 (81-1, 76-1, 93-0, 57-21); Stuart Bingham (Eng) bt John Astley (Eng) 4-2 (0-94, 123 (123)-1, 67-36, 0-81, 70-32, 69-38).

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Printable version | May 5, 2021 3:54:39 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/higgins-edges-vafaei-in-thriller/article26412354.ece

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