Welsh Open 2016: John Higgins eyes fifth title

John Higgins
Higgins won his first Welsh Open in 2000 and also won it in 2010, 2011 and 2015

John Higgins has played down his previous success at the Welsh Open as he targets a fifth title this week.

The Scot, 40, has won the ranking tournament three times in the last six years, and four times in all.

"It doesn't really matter," the defending champion told BBC Radio Scotland. "There are probably other players that are more favoured than me.

"It would be great if I could win it for a fifth time but we will just have to wait and see."

Four-time world champion Higgins opens the defence of his title against Andy Hicks, 42, a former World and UK Championship semi-finalist, on Monday.

"He used to be a really good player," Higgins noted. "He is is not a professional anymore, he just plays for fun now. But he won't have any expectations on him to win, he can just enjoy himself, so it is a tough game for me."

Higgins is one of 12 Scots in the 128-man first-round draw and is monitoring the progress of youngsters like Ross Muir, 20, Rhys Clark and Scott Donaldson, both 21, and Eden Sharav, 23.

Scottish players in the Welsh Open (world ranking & opponent)
John Higgins (7) v Andy Hicks (unranked)
Stephen Maguire (18) v Martin O'Donnell (90)
Graeme Dott (20) v Darryl Hill (98)
Alan McManus (26) v Rhys Clark (106)
Anthony McGill (29) v Liam Highfield (72)
Jamie Burnett (40) v Ross Muir (89)
Scott Donaldson (79) v Mark King (37)
Michael Leslie (86) v Judd Trump (6)
Eden Sharav (108) v Jack Lisowski (50)
Fraser Patrick (112) v Neil Robertson (3)

"Young Rhys Clark just beat [1997 world champion] Ken Doherty in the China Open qualifiers," Higgins noted. " I was playing on the next table and was 3-1 up thinking I was going quite well, and he'd already won 5-0.

"He's left-handed and plays just like Jimmy White, really quickly. It is brilliant to see some of these young Scottish players coming through."

While the younger generation strive to make progress, Higgins - who has won two more ranking titles this season in Australia and China to take his haul to 28 - has no plans to retire.

"I have got nothing else to do!" he joked. "I am going to keep playing as long as I can.

"The practice gets harder as you get older. I saw how the likes of Steve Davis, John Parrott and Jimmy White found it tougher to practise once they had families. I am the same, with three kids.

"There is a lot more travelling nowadays, but I still love competing against the best players around the world."

Full Welsh Open draw

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