Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Higgins falls down under

Another day in Bendigo and another shock first round exit in Australian Open.

Today, it was world number 43 Matt Selt who tore the ranking guide apart. He beat world and UK champion John Higgins 5-4, to reach the last 16 of a major ranking event for the first time in his career.

This will undoubtedly rank as Selt's best career win, but what made it more impressive, was that he had to recover from 4-1 down to pull it off.

While the Scot could probably count himself lucky to have established such a commanding lead  after the opening five frames in the first place, he failed to make it count with a performance so unlike Higgins, it was scary.

Usually renowned for his calculated and efficient game, Higgins proved today he's also susceptible to mistakes, just like anyone else. Just like Trump yesterday, he showed a little bit of rust from the summer himself.

Higgins missed a host of chances to seal the match in the final four frames, but full credit to Selt, who made him pay for his errors, and as a reward now faces seven-time world champion in the last 16 tomorrow.

Selt has built a reputation as a reliable, dependable and consistent player on the circuit over the last couple of years. Last season proves that entirely. Despite failing to make it to a major venue, he twice progressed to the final round of qualifying at the German Masters and World Championship, which earned him a place within the top 48 for the first time since turning professional for a second time in 2007.

But this season, he seems intent on taking his solid game to the next level, and making more of an impact. Wins against Adrian Gunnell and Ricky Walden for the loss of just one frame in qualifying for this event prove he's up for the fight - and beating Higgins will give him an added confidence boost.

Now his attention turns to another legend of the game in Hendry, who booked his place with a 5-3 win against  Martin Gould on Monday.

Hendry, who has recently vowed to win back a place in the top 8 of the world rankings, presents another winnable game for Selt.

As long as he doesn't play Hendry's reputation, he's got every chance of upsetting the apple cart again.

Obviously, Hendry hasn't completely lost his game, but it does go missing from time-to-time. Selt will get chances. If he takes them like he did against Higgins, he could be the success story of this year's maiden Australian Goldfields Open.

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