John Higgins believes his snooker is in terminal decline after crashing out of the ManBetX Welsh Open in the quarter-finals.
The Wishaw potter succumbed to a 5-2 defeat against 19-year-old Yan Bingtao at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena, extending his wait for a first ranking event victory since March 2018.
And the world No.5, who is also yet to reach a major final this season, was scathing about his performance and the state of his cueing.
“When I’m bad at this game I’m brutal - it’s as simple as that,” he lamented.
“I won’t be improving and I’m steadily getting worse - I knew he was going to be a tricky opponent but I had chances, and when I’m off-form I’m like a 30-handicapper.
“There have been that many poor performances recently I can’t actually differentiate between different ones - it was pathetic tonight.
“I wouldn’t say I lost it more than he won it, and I wouldn’t take that away from him, but my action just wasn’t there tonight.
“I won’t pick up a cue tomorrow - I’m going to take a couple of days off as I’m not in the Snooker Shoot Out, then I’ll try and get ready for the Players Championship.
“But when you play like that it doesn’t fill you with any optimism to get back on the practice table."
Completing our @manbetxofficial Welsh Open semi final line-up... @Magician147 & Yan Bingtao!— World Snooker Tour (@WeAreWST) February 14, 2020
Murphy has defeated Trump 5-3 and Bingtao has beaten Higgins 5-2.
The pair will clash at 7pm tomorrow #WelshOpen pic.twitter.com/OsXbiYcJBC
His Chinese opponent crafted breaks of 66 and 100 to race into an early lead in the Welsh capital, before the four-time world champion reduced the deficit to 3-1 heading into the interval.
The two players then exchanged breaks of 55 and 56 as Higgins won the sixth frame, but a classy 61 from Bingtao was enough to dash the Scot’s hopes and book his place in the semi-finals against world No.10 Shaun Murphy.
In Friday evening’s other quarter-final Murphy beat world No.1 Judd Trump for the second time in a month, heaping further misery on the world champion after his Dafabet Masters defeat with a 5-2 victory.
And in the afternoon session Ronnie O’Sullivan stunned Mark Selby to win 5-1, lining up a clash with Kyren Wilson in the last four, who beat world No.2 Neil Robertson 5-0.