Friday, 2 March 2012

The Milkman delivers

You have to go back a fair way to remember a time Robert Milkins has played as well as he has this week at a major ranking event.

He's looked in fine form all-week long and a hard-earned 5-3 defeat of the world champion John Higgins today was the icing on the cake. He said: "I’d never beaten John before and to beat him like that when he was playing so well was extra special for me.

"That was a dream, not just beating John but playing like I did. He chucked the kitchen sink at me. I’d have been devastated if I’d have lost that match the way I played."

It means his run so far this week on Hainan Island equals his previous best major event performance, when he also reached the last four of the Irish Open back in 2005.

Although such progress has been scarce since he turned professional in 1995, it doesn't mean we should be overly surprised.

As I've already said this week, he's one of the best break builders outside of the top 16. His style of play is enjoyable to watch. He's quick and fluid, capable of reeling off frames when he's on song.

The confidence he'll get from beating Higgins will be immense.

That's why no-one should be writing him off to go on and lift the World Open title on Sunday.

"I take every match as it comes, but I don’t think I’ll have a tougher match than I had tonight. I’m here to win the tournament, just like the other three," added Milkins.

People may ask what's made the difference to Robert's performances this week. He says working closely with Terry Griffiths has helped. It wouldn't be the first time the Welshman has weaved his magic.

He'll have to get himself up again tomorrow ready to face Stephen Lee, another player in good nick. The other semi-final sees Mark Allen faces Mark Selby. They were both comfortable winners today and will fancy their chances of going all the way too.

It's a tough one to call.

Semi-final line-up:

Mark Allen v Mark Selby
Robert Milkins v Stephen Lee

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