John Higgins is being driven on by the prospect of winning a 30th ranking title after a "surprising" 5-1 win over Ronnie O’Sullivan in the quarter-final of the ManBetX Welsh Open.

The Wizard of Wishaw put in a magical display, compiling two superb century clearances to book his place in the final four of the Cardiff event.

Higgins won at a canter – despite dropping the first frame – and with an ease that shocked even the four-time World Champion himself.

“Every win when you beat Ronnie is a great win,” said Higgins, who whitewashed The Rocket on their last meeting at the Scottish Open.

“It’s been funny the way the season has gone. The first four times I’ve played him he beat me quite easily but in the last two, I’ve got the better of him easily.

“He didn’t play great tonight and I was a little bit surprised by that.”

The 42 year-old’s 113 run to win the second frame, without his opponent even potting a ball, helped him level the match and seize early momentum.

But the fourth frame - the last before the interval - was the key point as O’Sullivan looked to establish parity.

O’Sullivan potted the white trying to play an ambitious positional shot, a crucial juncture in the match.

“It was a massive moment,” said Higgins.

“How he’s gone in-off there into the middle, I don’t know.

“It’ll probably pickle his head that’s he’s even come close to the middle pocket. It was huge to take that 3-1 lead into the interval.”

Higgins, alongside O’Sullivan, has won the Home Nations series event more than any other player – with four title triumphs.

The Scotsman is one win away from a 30th ranking title and revealed reaching that target is preying on his mind.

“It’s a big aim for me,” he said.

“When I got past Steve Davis, that was significant in my mind. To get to 30 would be a good feeling and brilliant to win here again.”

Higgins will face Gary Wilson in his eighth Welsh Open semi-final - all of which he’s won - after he beat Yu Delu 5-2.

Wilson - who reached the final of the China Open in 2015 - has a world ranking of 51 but beat Higgins in their last meeting, a 4-3 win at the Northern Ireland Open.

Elsewhere Barry Hawkins booked his place in a semi-final for the first time this season, beating Chinese prodigy Yan Bingtao 5-1.

Hawkins bagged breaks of 141 and 137 to down the world number 26, who put in an anaemic performance.

In the day’s other quarter-final, Preston’s Ian Burns fell to a 5-3 defeat at the hands of Noppon Saengkham.

Burns fought back to beat Liam Highfield and Neil Robertson earlier in the week but couldn’t overhaul a 3-1 interval deficit in his second-ever ranking quarter-final.

Watch the Welsh Open LIVE on Eurosport, Eurosport Player and Quest with Andy Goldstein and analysis from Jimmy White and Neal Foulds