John Higgins is through to the semi-finals of the Masters having beaten old rival Ronnie O’Sullivan 6-3 in a breathtaking clash in Milton Keynes.

The match was one of the most eagerly anticipated in recent memory, pitting two of the finest players of all time against each other once again.

The thrilling contest went on to equal an 11-year record of five consecutive century breaks as Higgins found another gear to edge himself ahead.

O’Sullivan opened up with a 97, but Higgins levelled before producing the highest break of the tournament with a clearance of 145 and it proved the catalyst for a succession of outstanding breaks.

He followed it up with 110 before O’Sullivan replied with runs of 125 and 103 to draw level at 3-3.

But Higgins, a two-time Masters champion, was not to be denied this time and breaks of 134 and 88 put him in control and he closed the match.

He faces David Gilbert in the semi-finals on Saturday, while defending champion Stuart Bingham plays Chinese debutant Yan Bingtao.

Two-time champion Higgins said: “I enjoyed it. It was a really high standard and only a couple of mistakes were made, it could have gone either way. I am delighted I turned up in a big game against one of the best players.

“I have been putting the practice in and I have felt my form is close to being there. It’s about trying to keep believing you are good enough and that performance will give me confidence.”

Record seven-time winner O’Sullivan added: “I just made too many unforced errors. The breaks look good on the scoresheet but when you miss in among the balls and play lapse safeties, it will cost you against John and you are not going to win. Disappointed I could not cut out the errors.

“Centuries look good on paper but with John playing like that, with his potting and break-building, he is going to outscore you and was far too good for me tonight.”

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