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Friday, 15 November, 2002, 18:17 GMT
Higgins in shock exit
Ian McCulloch
McCulloch faces Mark Williams in the semi-finals

Ian McCulloch brought John Higgins' British Open title defence to an end with a surprise 5-2 victory over the world number four.

The Preston professional won the last four frames to reach the semi-finals of a ranking event for the first time in his 10-year career.

But the world number 43 claimed he was not surprised he had sent the former world champion crashing out.

"It's not a shock to me - I've been playing so well in practice that it had to come through in a tournament eventually," said McCulloch.


Maybe I didn't give Ian enough respect - I know he's a good player but I thought I would win
John Higgins

"Maybe John wasn't playing well, maybe I was. To be honest I don't care, I'm just delighted to be through."

McCulloch began the match with a break of 78 before Higgins responded with 77 to make it 1-1.

Higgins then claimed the third but broke down early on in the next and McCulloch won it with a break of 58.

And the Scot struggled for the rest of the match, managing a highest break of only 27 in the last four frames.

"Maybe I didn't give Ian enough respect. I know he's a good player but I thought I would win," Higgins admitted.

"He played well but I was garbage. It was my usual thing. I seem to be playing well for a couple of games and then look as if I've never picked a cue up before."

McCulloch faces Mark Williams for a place in the final after the former world number one reached his first semi-final for eight months by beating Ali Carter 5-1.

Mark Williams
Williams was grateful to advice from Terry Griffiths

The Welshman has been inconsistent recently, but felt more composed following advice from fellow former world champion Terry Griffiths.

"I've been talking to Terry quite a bit and it's made me more confident on the table," said Williams.

"A few months ago I was dreading having the balls everywhere because I felt I was going to miss somewhere along the way."

In the evening session, Paul Hunter followed up his defeat of world number one Ronnie O'Sullivan by thrashing Nottingham's Anthony Hamilton 5-1 to book his place in the last four.

The 24-year-old will break into the world's top eight if he pockets the 52,000 first prize on Sunday.

LG Cup champion Chris Small came back from 4-1 down to beat his fellow Scot Alan McManus 5-4.

Small, who beat McManus in the LG final, cleared from the last red to the pink in the decider to extend his winning run to 10 matches.

"I haven't played well all week and was just happy to be in the quarters. But I started cueing well and Alan couldn't put me away," said Small.


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