Thursday 23 November 2017

Snooker: Tears of joy for Higgins as 'new star' is trumped

John Higgins at the table during the final at the World Snooker Championships at the Crucible yesterday as he clinched his fourth title. Photo: PA
John Higgins at the table during the final at the World Snooker Championships at the Crucible yesterday as he clinched his fourth title. Photo: PA

Neil Goulding at the Crucible

John Higgins capped an "unbelievable 12 months" as he won his fourth world championship by beating Judd Trump last night.

Higgins, who a year ago was mired in allegations of frame-fixing, was able to celebrate as he completed his rehabilitation in the game with an 18-15 victory in Sheffield.

Higgins broke down in tears at mention of his late father, the man who guided his career and died in February, but savoured his victory.

"It's an unbelievable moment to win it again," Higgins said. "It's been amazing, I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for (the support of his family). It's just an unbelievable 12 months but it's been great."

Higgins also had high praise for his 21-year-old opponent, who came from relative obscurity to become the story of the tournament before falling short at the final hurdle.


"I think he was the better player, playing a brand of snooker we've never seen before, it was unbelievable," Higgins said. "The amount of long shots he was potting was incredible, great to watch and we've got a new sensation in the game."

Trump is likely to be in a final again, but admitted he never expected to reach this one. "I've come here not expecting to do that well, so to get to the final is a good achievement," he said. "Seventeen days ago I was no one really, but every game it kept building and the fan base I've created is unbelievable. It wasn't enough this time but I'll come back next year."

At one stage Trump led 12-9. However as he attempted to stretch four frames clear the 21-year-old missed a difficult blue, and that proved a turning point.

Fearless potting had served Trump well through the rounds, from his opening win over last year's champion Neil Robertson, through crushing victories against Martin Gould and Graeme Dott and again as he ended Ding Junhui's campaign in the semi-finals. It brought him 10 centuries, an army of new supporters, and the belief that he was suddenly "invincible".

This for a player who had to come through qualifying just to reach the first round. And yet yesterday the potting was his downfall, with the qualifier from Bristol taking on too much, missing too often and leaving chances for Higgins which were devoured.

Having played poorly on Sunday and finished just 10-7 behind, the Scot produced a performance befitting his status as a great of the game. Higgins was almost machine-like in his efficiency as he made one frame-winning break after another, with Trump seeing practically every error being punished.

Only Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry and Ray Reardon have won more world titles in the modern era than Higgins, who goes one ahead of his quarter-final victim Ronnie O'Sullivan after adding to his 1998, 2007 and 2009 successes.

In yesterday's afternoon session, Higgins had won six of eight frames to open a 13-12 lead, making breaks 59, 97, 47, 93, 113 and 57. Considering his highest break in the opening 17 frames was 64, it was some improvement.

Trump got back to make it 14-14 and moved 51-0 ahead in the next frame before leaving himself snookered on the black after splitting the pack. Again, Higgins found a way to win the frame.

Higgins then opened a two-frame advantage before Trump replied with 70 and narrowed Higgins' lead to one frame again. The youngster howled with disgust when the pink ran into the white's path to halt a break of 33 in frame 32, and could hardly bear to watch as Higgins went on to take the frame.

Trump opened a 60-0 lead in the next frame, before missing a straight pink. After another red, Trump had enough points to leave Higgins needing a snooker, but he got it on the pink, tucking up behind the black.

Higgins doubled the pink and potted an easy black, and the title was his again.

details in factfile

Irish Independent

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