Luca Brecel withstood a mini-fightback from John Higgins to wrap up the second ranking title of his career at the Scottish Open in Llandudno.
Just one week after losing the UK Championship final to Zhao Xintong, Brecel saw his 8-2 lead cut to 8-5 before he posted a 127 clearance to get over the line in style.
The Belgian’s 9-5 success delivered his first title since the 2017 China Championship and also served up a fourth final defeat of the year for Higgins.
The Scottish Open was held in Wales due to a contract issue with the original venue.
Brecel said: “Straight after the UK final it was difficult to take, but the next day I switched my mind and just got to Wales and forgot all about it.
“I believed I could go far but I felt tired. As the week went on I got stronger, and I think winning this after losing the UK is probably a bigger achievement than if I’d won the UK itself.”
Showing no ill effects from his loss to Zhao, Brecel had established a 6-2 lead after the first session of the final, culminating in a break of 104.
Higgins looked out of sorts and any hope he had of wrestling his way back into the final appeared to have gone when Brecel won the first two frames of the evening session to extend his lead and move one from victory.
But the Scot typically refused to admit defeat, battling through three frames in a row to reduce the deficit until Brecel finally held his nerve to get over the line.
“I didn’t get off to the greatest of starts and Luca was fantastic,” said Higgins.
“It’s brilliant for snooker to have someone like Luca coming through and playing in the way he does – it’s great for the game.”