WORLD champion Ronnie O’Sullivan scored a first big win for almost five years over bogey opponent John Higgins at the BetVictor Welsh Open on Friday.

The Rocket raced into the semi-finals with a 5-1 win at the Newport Centre in the £300,000 tournament, helped by a top break of 115.

Long-time rivals O’Sullivan and world No10 Higgins, both 38, have won nine world titles including six of the last seven between them.

But Scot Higgins has beaten O’Sullivan 23 times in major events – more than any other player - in their previous clashes.

O’Sullivan said: “It is always a feather in anyone’s cap to get a win over John, whether he is playing well or not. I am over the moon to get the win and play okay.

“To me he is the complete player. If I am really on my game I know I can stay with him. But if I am slightly off and he is on, it is a mismatch, as it has been in the past. He is too good.

“If he had played well today he probably would have won but of the two of us maybe I am better at playing badly and winning.

“I am more instinctive, he is more technical. He might struggle to manufacture shots, I sling them in with side and twitch them in and flick them in and move on the shot.

“John hasn’t had the best of seasons since getting off to a flier last summer, but he had a good tournament here.

“I feel like I have turned a corner in my mental attitude, I don’t get so up and I don’t get so down. I accept while it is good I need to take the results.”

Higgins said: “I felt really good, and maybe there were a couple of splits of the balls that didn’t quite go my way.

“But he is hitting the ball like a dream if I am honest, and it is really tough to hold on to him when he is playing like that.

“I can take positives out of this week though. I feel as if I am going in the right direction after this event, I have been really down on myself these past few months.”

Photographs by Monique Limbos