Photos courtesy of Monique Limbos. Results from the Dafabet Masters can be found here.
Since reaching the final of the Wuxi Classic all the way back in June, four-time World Champion John Higgins has done little of note recently and was looking to start 2014 in perfect style at the Dafabet Masters.
The Scotsman faced a tough opening match in the shape of Basildon's Stuart Bingham, who himself recently ran eventual champion Neil Robertson close in the semi-finals of the UK Championship and was playing some of the best snooker of his career.
The first two, scrappier frames were shared before the Wizard of Wishaw conjured up top breaks of 50, 94, 65 and a brilliant 109 to win the next four frames on the bounce to take a 5-1 lead over his struggling opponent.
John Higgins makes a magnificent 109 break against Stuart Bingham
Bingham rallied back with a 91, his only half-century of the match, to pull one back. But it was too little, too late for the the former Champion of Champions finalist who lost the tight, eighth frame on the colours which saw Higgins progress, a comfortable 6-2 winner.
Higgins was pleased to get through to face Mark Selby next week, especially after recently having changed cues after a dissappointing start to the season: "I played better today than I have in many months," said the 38-year-old.
"I was in the depths of despair after the UK Championship so I thought it was time to change my cue again. I practised hard with it the last few weeks and I felt a lot more confident heading in to this tournament."
Bingham said of his performance that it was: "Diabolical. My nan was in the crowd today and she could of played better than me. It was a bad day at the office and I definitely don't deserve to be here when I play like that."
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By Stephen Kent