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Hangdog Higgins plays down Crucible chances

MEET John Higgins, lapsed perfectionist and days away from relinquishing his world snooker title. At least that is what he would have his Crucible rivals believe.

The supporting evidence is rather overwhelming, with a glance at results since last May's thrilling Crucible triumph against Judd Trump exposing some astonishing defeats.

Dechawat Poomjaeng, David Morris, Justin Astley, Jamie Jones and Li Yan -- less a 'Who's Who' of the snooker circuit and more a 'Who's That?' list -- have all beaten Higgins this season, but his last defeat was the one which hurt him the most.


Higgins was dumped out in round two of the China Open last month by Peter Ebdon, himself a past world champion and one of the few players on the circuit who can match the Scot for obduracy.

The match was there for Higgins to win as chances came his way in a deciding frame, but he had two bites and came away with the most sour of tastes. No wonder it was hard to take.

"It was, because I felt I played well," said Higgins.

"I had two glorious chances in the last frame and I couldn't take them, and taking chances like that has been my hallmark over the last three or four years.

"The only silver lining I'm going to take into the World Championship is that I'll be the best prepared I've been all season, because I'll have had two or three weeks of hard practice behind me which I've not had for any other event."

Higgins gave off negative vibes through his words and body language as he spoke at the World Championship launch in London. Alongside him sat World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn, and a grinning Stephen Lee, back to tournament-winning ways after years in the doldrums.

"I'm not too confident," added Higgins, stating the obvious.

"I think if I win the world title I'd be able to forget about the rest of the season. That would top everything," he said. "It's true that in recent history I probably do thrive there."