Phil Haigh ✍️
They have been three of the best players on the planet for 30 years, but John Higgins believes Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Williams and himself are all better now than they ever have been.
The Class of 92 are all into the quarter-finals at the World Snooker Championship this year after Higgins joined his old rivals on Monday afternoon thanks to a 13-7 win over Noppon Saengkham.
It is the fourth time that all three of the legends are into the last eight together, with the first being way back in 1998 and the last in 2011.
The trio are all playing fantastic stuff, with Williams and O’Sullivan both making short work of their opponents so far, while Higgins has continued the relentless quality that has seen him reach six finals already this season.
Higgins has said already this season that he feels he is the best version of himself now, and he thinks the same can be said for the Rocket and the Welsh Potting Machine as all three approach 50.
‘I think it’s incredible that after 30 years, the three of us are better players than we’ve ever been,’ Higgins said after beating Saengkham. ‘I feel as if I am.
‘Mark Williams I feel is certainly playing incredible since he went to the Sight Right technology the last few years.
‘Ronnie’s Ronnie. He’s such a tougher player to play against now when he’s actually scrapping for every shot and frames. Whereas before maybe he threw the towel in more times. That makes him undeniably a better player than he’s ever been.
‘To say that, 30 years later that the three of us are better players, that’s an incredible stat, I think.’
With Higgins and O’Sullivan at 46 and Williams 47, there is every likelihood they will still be competing at the top of the game into their 50s and the Scot is far from ruling out still being involved when they hit 60.
‘I don’t see why not,’ he said. ‘Mark’s plainly said he’s not going to retire. Ronnie, who knows? Myself, aye, probably could.’
Higgins and O’Sullivan are in the same half of the draw with Williams in the other, so there is a possibility of another Class of 92 final, which the Scot would love to see.
‘They’re playing amazing,’ he told Eurosport. ‘I respect the two guys, look up to them, it’s great that the three of us are in the quarter-finals.
‘It could be a final. Me and Ronnie in one half of the draw and Mark up the top half. That would be some occasion.’
There is no shortage of contenders in the rest of the field, though, with Higgins pointing out the opponents that O’Sullivan and Williams are facing in the last eight.
His practice partner Stephen Maguire takes on the Rocket, while Mark Selby’s conqueror, Yan Bingtao, meets Williams.
‘It would be crazy for you not to look at guys like Mark and Ronnie, the way they have played,’ said Higgins.
‘Stephen Maguire playing with a new cue, that’ll make him a dangerous player because he likes to go for his shots, it’ll be reining him in. I know how great a player Stephen is from practice, when he maybe doesn’t go for the one shot too many, he’s incredibly difficult to play against.
‘And then Bingtao, how many people can beat Selby here at the Crucible? Bingtao’s done amazing.’
Higgins is yet to learn his quarter-final opponent, with Neil Robertson or Jack Lisowski progressing to meet him when their match comes to an end on Monday night.
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