IT SEEMS absurd for a player as decorated as John Higgins to claim that he has underperformed at the Masters.

But so high are the standards that the 37-year-old sets for himself that the two-time former champion goes into next week's action at the Alexandra Palace keen to add to his already loaded trophy cabinet.

A four-time world champion with 25 ranking titles to his name so far, 'The Wizard of Wishaw' faces Ali Carter next Monday in the first round in the second of snooker's Triple Crown of events on the calendar.

Before Christmas Higgins fell to a shock defeat to Mark Davis in the second round of the UK Championships in York and comes into the Masters keen to set the record straight.

"It's always been a big tournament to try and play well in," said the current world No.3. "To say I have not done well in the Masters is probably a bit silly when you consider that I have won it twice and come close a couple of times.

"But the rest of the time I have lost very early on so this is one I would dearly love to do well in this year, having not won the title for seven years.

"But it's so tough with it only being the top 16 here, With the best of 11 format like it always has been it is quite cut-throat and you have to get off to a good start.

"I've got a very tough draw in the first round going up against Ali Carter. He was unlucky not to win the UKs and came up against an inspired Shaun Murphy in the semi-finals from 8-4 behind.

"He's feeling good about his game obviously so it will be tough and head-to-head record does not really matter any more, it was good to get some wins under my belt last week but it won't matter in the match."

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