John Higgins admits he does not know whether he can pick himself up for the World Championship after his brutal Tour Championship defeat on Sunday, and even questions if he can recover for the rest of his career.
The Wizard of Wishaw was 9-4 ahead of Neil Robertson in Llandudno and playing superbly, but then fell away badly as the Australian found form and won six frames on the spin to secure a famous 10-9 win.
Higgins had chances in those final six frames and none better than in the decider when he missed a very straightforward opening red with the balls nicely placed to make a big break.
The Scot described the miss as ‘unforgiveable’ immediately after the contest, and admitted later that sending that red wide of his mark could cost him in Sheffield this month and even in the years to come.
At 46 years old, the four-time world champion is in the latter stages of his career, and Higgins reckons his remaining years could be hit hard by that one shot.
‘I don’t know if I can pick myself up for the Worlds right now,’ Higgins said, via the Daily Record. ‘The end of the match could leave some really big mental scars.
‘I just fell down near the end. You cannot miss that red that I missed when I had a chance to win it. That’s a shot that could ruin the end of your career really, who knows?
‘It’s a tough one to take. I’m pretty numb and it hasn’t really sunk in yet. Who knows if I can bounce back from this for the Worlds?’
Even after the superb win to defend his title, Robertson admitted that he felt for his fallen foe, tweeting on Monday: ‘Unbelievable feeling defending this title! Wonderful match to be a part of but absolutely gutted for John though.
‘He was unlucky and I had to pull off a 1/10 pot to stay in it or he would have won. See you guys in Sheffield.’
His losses in the Champion of Champions to Judd Trump and Scottish Open to Luca Brecel were reasonably one-sided and easier to take, but he also tossed away leads at the Northern Ireland Open to Mark Allen and English Open to Robertson.
There can be little doubt that those losses were playing on his mind as his lead dripped away in north Wales on Sunday night and, as he says, the mental scars are racking up as he prepares for another world title tilt this month.
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