IF John Higgins emerges as winner of the Scottish Open over the next week, his eldest son will surely have had a hand in his dad’s win.

Higgins has done everything there is to do in the sport, but his 18-year-old son, Pierce, is still quick to jump in and give the four-time world champion a motivational talk when he needs it.

“My eldest son, Pierce, will give me pep talks,” reveals Higgins.
“If he watches me play and sees me down in the dumps, he’ll be like dad, come on, show some fight! 
“And he’ll tell me to sit up straight and not to slouch. So that’s pretty good.”

Higgins’ sessions over the next week at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena, which begins on Monday will, he hopes, be scheduled in the evening, allowing all three of his children to watch him play, something that they rarely have the opportunity to do with world-class snooker visiting Scotland only once a year these days.

The 44-year-old begins his campaign against Englishman Jamie O’Neill but almost all of the big guns are present, including Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump, Neil Robertson and defending champion, Mark Allen.

Higgins won the Scottish Open twice in its previous iteration in the 90s, but both times, the tournament was held south of the border. Having reached the final in Glasgow in 2016, the Wishaw man admits he is desperate to go one better and win the trophy on home soil.

“Winning it would be great,” he said. 
“I’ve been lucky enough to have won the tournament a couple of times and it’s a great feeling. It’s good for us guys to get some home support.”

Higgins, who lost in the quarter-finals of the UK Championships to Yan Bingtao yesterday, has been a mainstay at the top end of snooker for a remarkable 25 years, and he remains one of the most feared players on the circuit. 

He has, however, had a number of low points and after a dip in form last year, seriously contemplated retirement.
A few changes to his practice routine though and Higgins has been back to something close to his best this year.

“I changed my whole practice routine and that’s made a huge difference,” he revealed. 

“I play in a unit now with Stephen Maguire and Anthony McGill – we’ve got a unit in Glasgow and we’ve got three tables and it’s like going to work again. Whereas the past two or three years, I’d been playing from home – I did that because we were going to be travelling and away from home a lot so the thinking was that whenever I was home, I could spend a good bit of time with the family and also do some practicing at the same time. 

“But I find working from home is completely impossible. You sit down and have a cup of tea and before you know it, you’re watching Loose Women and that’s your practice scrapped for the day.

"So now, I’ll drop the kids off at school, go and do a few hours of practice and then come back home to pick the kids up from school. So now, it feels like I’m out the house and doing something productive whereas before, I was going stir crazy.”

Higgins might have delayed hanging up his cue for now, but he knows retirement is on the horizon sooner or later. And even for someone who has enjoyed as much success as Higgins has, he admits the thought of his playing days ending is somewhat a tad scary.

“The thought of retiring does cross my mind and it is a bit daunting,” he said. 

“I know some of the other players have gone into commentary but I don’t think anyone would understand me so maybe that’s why I’m not getting asked to do much of that.
“Snooker is all I’ve ever known since I was a boy and so you maybe don’t want to contemplate a life without it.”
He would not though, he anticipates, continue merely for the sake of continuing.

“It’d be tough for me going in if I didn’t think I could do well though. I still go into every tournament thinking I can potentially win it at the moment,” he said.
“Right now, if I put the effort in, I feel like I’m still good enough to compete at the top level. The good thing about snooker is that, as long as your eyes hold out and you’re willing to put the work in, you can keep competing and making a living out of the game.”

This week though, retirement is the furthest thing from Higgins’ mind. If he is to win his home tournament, he will need to be on top form and there is one player in particular who he loves the challenge of facing up against.
“I love playing Judd Trump,” he said. 

“I’ve had some great battles with him since he was a young boy coming through and up until the world final last year, we’d had some great, tough games but I’d always seemed to pip him at the last minute.

"He’d never beaten me in a long match but in the world final, he smashed me. He beat me in a couple of semi-finals this year too so it was good to have had that record for so long. It’s always good to play someone young, someone attacking like him. He’s a young guy who I really love playing.”