Mark Allen feels for John Higgins and says it is sad to see the all-time great struggling with confidence after dishing out another painful defeat to the Scot at The Masters.
The Pistol edged out the Wizard 6-5 at Alexandra Palace, bouncing back from 3-1 behind and making an impressive break of 86 in the decider.
Higgins was looking really good early on, struggled in the middle of the match before making two half-centuries to force the decider but eventually fell just short.
Losing a close match to Allen is no disgrace, but it adds to a string of very tight defeats that Higgins has suffered over the last 18 months and the Northern Irishman says it is tough to see the legend clearly struggling to get over the line…although he didn’t feel that way during the match.
‘I know that John had his chances and I feel for John, not out there I didn’t, I wanted him to miss every shot he played, but I feel for him now,’ Allen told the BBC.
‘He’s a really good guy and he looks like someone who is just struggling to get over the line. If he just believed in himself a bit more he’d be winning tournaments again.’
He added on Eurosport: ‘He’s too good to be talking the way he is, because he’s one of the all-time greats, anyone would love to have a career like John’s.
‘It’s sad seeing him the way he is now. Not when I’m out there, I want him to miss every shot. I do feel for him because it’s not nice when you’re losing a lot of close games.
‘I’m sat here very happy to be in the next round, but it was one that got away from John, to be honest.’
A clearly disappointed Higgins was frustrated that he could not capitalise on his early lead and other opportunities he had at the table.
‘3-1 in front and I’ve had chances in the next two or three frames,’ he said. ‘You don’t normally get as many chances against Mark as I got today. I just never took advantage of it.
‘Listen, I don’t know where I go. I play well to a certain point and then I just go missing. I play so many bad shots, it’s incredible. Ach, another bad defeat, I suppose.’
Speaking to Eurosport he said: ‘From 3-1 to go 5-2 behind, it’s really poor from me. I tried to stick in there but Mark showed his class at the end there, every credit to him.
‘It’s another tough one, but what can you do?’
While Higgins is struggling for confidence, Allen is not. Pleased that he can now regularly win games without finding his best form.
‘I know I need to play much better than that,’ he said. ‘But the good thing, I would say, is I’m still competing in nearly every tournament I go to without having to play well.
‘That’s something I never had. There’s no doubt whenever I play well I win tournaments, I don’t mean that in an arrogant way I just believe in myself, but now I feel like I can win without playing well.’
Allen goes on to play either Mark Selby or Rob Milkins in the quarter-finals on Friday evening.
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