Ronnie O'Sullivan has come to the defence of his great rival, John Higgins, after the Scot's dramatic loss to Neil Robertson in the final of the English Open.
Robertson held his nerve and composure when it really mattered to secure the English Open title in a very tense final-frame decider in Milton Keynes on Sunday night.
For Higgins, it was a tough conclusion to stomach as he looked in complete control when he held a commanding 8-6 lead, but he ultimately came up short again in a Home Nations final - three weeks after losing out to Mark Allen in the final of the Northern Ireland Open.
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But O'Sullivan, who lost out to Higgins in a thrilling semi-final, insisted that this was not a case of a player not having the "bottle" in the big moments, but simply age catching up to one of the greats of the game.
"Robertson was clinical when he had to be and that's sometimes what it is: a good, young one will always beat a good, old one," O'Sullivan said in the Eurosport studio.
"Robertson was by far the better player but John's experience kept him in the game, his nous. When John says he is not the player he was, I think that is the only thing that is lacking.
"That must be an age thing; you just don't get over the line as easily. I don't think John bottled it tonight, he is just not that type of player.

Watch the moment Robertson clinches English Open title in dramatic final

"He just happened to miss the balls, and twitching and missing are two totally different things. That's enough at this level because Robertson is clinical enough if you give him half a chance.
It was not a bottle thing but sometimes, as you get older, that is what happens - you miss those clutch balls.
"When you are winning all the time, like John did in his prime, winning becomes a habit and you just find something from somewhere. You just get the job done and it happens, but maybe there comes a stage in your career where that doesn't happen.
"As long as he is enjoying playing he should keep going because winning is not the be-all and end-all and he was involved in a great final tonight."

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Fellow legend and Eurosport expert Jimmy White added: "You've got to feel for John Higgins because obviously he is a bit disappointed. He is not hiding from the line, it just didn't happen today.
"He said there that he can't compete with the top guys; I don't believe that for a minute. I still think he is an unbelievable player.
"He will be disappointed because, for a man of his class, it should have been easier."
The Scottish Open, also part of the prestigious Home Nations series, will take place from December 6-12, presenting Higgins with another opportunity to go all the way.

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22/06/2022 AT 10:04