"It was a game that had everything" may be one of sports most overused cliches but I honestly can't think of any other way to describe the action in todays Shanghai Masters Final.The record books will show that John Higgins beat Judd Trump 10-9 to win the title and in so doing clinch his 25th ranking event title.For once though that really only tells part of the story about a match that will have anyone lucky enough to have witnessed it talking for a long time.
This close tight match didn't look on the cards early on as Trump playing some beautifully flowing snooker raced into a 4-0 mid session interval lead and extended that to 5-0 in the next.Higgins though is never one panic and he got his first frame on the board in the next in the best possible way with a maximum 147 break which netted Higgins 12,000 and a box of six gold nuggets from the sponsors.The prize would not have been on his mind though as he lost the next to trail 6-1 and they shared the final two of the session to leave Trump within touching distance of the title leading 7-2.
However as we had seen many times over the years you simply can never write off John Higgins and he again showed us why he is the great champion he is by coming out in the second session with all guns blazing.Breaks of 89,74 and 76 saw him win the first four frames of the night to close within one at the mid session interval,the score now 7-6
He wasn't finished there however and won the next with a 71 and in an hard fought 15th frame Higgins doubled the final black to take the lead 8-7.Judd at this stage must have been in a daze wondering what was happening to him so it is to his credit as well as testament to his growing maturity that he constructed a fine 105 to again level at 8-8.
Both players were now showing fine touch albeit neither were experiencing the best run of the ball. Higgins was first in again in the next with 64 but Trump fought back and looked like he ma snatch it before undercutting the black trying to get back up for the yellow. Higgins took it to lead 9-8.Trump wasn't done for yet though and he won a tense 18th frame to force a decider.which was no more then he deserved
They say all you want in a deciding frame is to get a chance and that first chance fell to Trump but he could only manage 35 before running out of position..Higgins though came to the table and knocked in a superb red before running out the victor with a fine 61.
This win will be made all the sweeter for Higgins not only because of the great comeback to win it but also because it proves to everyone and possibly even himself that he has still got a lot more to offer in the game.I certainly don't think that any player will be relishing meeting him on the table for the rest of the season.
For Trump he will no doubt be very disappointed to have let a 7-2 lead slip away but when he looks back on the match out of the heat of the battle he can reflect positively on the fact that this was Higgins winning the match not him losing it.He can also look back on a week where he has impressed everyone with his all round play and maybe once and for all put to bed the "one trick pony " label he has been unfairly branded with by some.He can take great confidence going on from this for the rest of the season.
Finally I want to comment on the tournament as a whole. I think although this was actually the third ranking event of the season many will feel this is where the season finally caught fire.The crowds seemed good all week and the atmosphere for the final seemed to be electric.
We now have a few PTC events before we return to China for the International Championship and the small matter of the return of our World Champion Ronnie O Sullivan.Get the fires lit and pull in the sofa we're going to have super winter!