JOHN HIGGINS set up a clash to savour against 2011 World Championship final opponent Judd Trump with a 4-0 victory over Mark King at the BetVictor Welsh Open on Wednesday night.
Scotland’s four-time Crucible king Higgins, 38, whitewashed England’s King at the Newport Centre in the £300,000 tournament.
And the world No10 will now take on a rejuvenated Trump, a recent finalist at the German Masters, in match conjuring up memories of the classic Crucible showpiece three years ago won 18-15 by Higgins.
At almost exactly the same time as Higgins came off table, defending Welsh Open champion and world No8 Maguire completed a 4-0 victory over Wales’s Andrew Pagett.
Maguire, 32, will now face Sheffield teenager Joel Walker, having his best ever run at a ranking tournament, for a place in the quarter-finals.
Higgins, who has been struggling for form, said: “I think Judd said I was getting old earlier – he is not wrong there. I definitely am. He will take the chances I gave Mark tonight.
“I haven’t had decent wins against higher-ranked players, and that is how I will be judged. You can see Judd has got his confidence back and has come back into a bit of form.
“He got to the final in Berlin, and can pot a lot better than I ever could even at his age.
“People always think of the world final at the Crucible between us, and I think that was the best atmosphere I have ever played in.
“It was unique and maybe never to be repeated, with an established player against an up and comer who everyone wanted to win.”
Maguire, who didn’t even know who he was playing next, admitted that Walker would be an unknown quantity.
But he was happy his the swollen disc in his back was less painful and to still be punching 12 months after breaking a long title drought in south Wales with his win over Stuart Bingham in the final.
Maguire said: “At least my defence is still going but there is a long way to go. I haven’t really seen his results, but he must have done well to be in the last 16.
“I just about remember being a teenager, so he will be after my blood. But my back is a lot better after a couple of days’ rest.”