Brilliant Higgins Destroys Wilson
John Higgins completed a 13-2 demolition of Kyren Wilson to reach the quarter-finals of the Cazoo World Championship for the 17th time in his career.
It’s 25 years since four-time Crucible king Higgins first became World Champion back in 1998. Until now his form this season hasn’t indicated that he is in a great position to claim his fifth crown, having only made the quarter-finals of one ranking event.
However, today’s victory with a session to spare underlines the 31-time ranking event winner’s title credentials and sends out a significant statement to the field. Higgins now awaits the winner between Mark Selby and Gary Wilson in the quarter-finals.
The Wishaw cueman last captured the sport’s biggest prize in 2011 and since then his quest for a fifth world title has involved a considerable amount of heartbreak. Higgins was runner-up in three consecutive years between 2017 and 2019. His results this season mean he has somewhat come under the radar this time around.
By contrast, world number seven Wilson arrived in Sheffield as one of the tour’s form players, having made the final of the recent Tour Championship. He carried that form over in the first round, firing in the 13th maximum break in Crucible history during his 10-5 victory over Ryan Day.
Wilson’s momentum was brought to an abrupt halt in this morning’s opening session, when Higgins put on a supreme showing to take a clean sweep of the frames and earn an 8-0 advantage.
When play got underway this evening Higgins relentlessly pushed on, stealing the first on the black. It was soon 10-0 when the Scot hammered home a brilliant break of 128.
Wilson eventually staved off the whitewash thanks to a break of 55 in the 11th, but Higgins restored his ten-frame lead by taking the 12th on the black.
The next two frames were traded, before Higgins embarked on a 147 attempt. His run ended on 80, but it was enough to see him over the line as an emphatic 13-2 victor.
“It was amazing. To beat Kyren 13-12, I would have bitten your hand off. To beat him 13-2 was an incredible result for me,” said 47-year-old Higgins.
“I’ve been feeling happy with my game for the last month. I was beginning to time the ball well. You know the nerves are going to kick in for your first round match. I played pretty well in it. I know Kyren was maybe having trouble with his cue. I hope he gets that fixed, but I can’t complain. I’m hitting the ball well.
“Every World Championship win is special, but it would probably be the hardest one. If you have to come through maybe Mark Selby if he wins, possibly Mark Allen and then maybe O’Sullivan or Anthony McGill. It would be amazing to have two Scottish guys in the final, but there is a long way to go.
“I’ve been coming here for so long and I always seem to play well here. I just have to try to play the same again. It is going to be really difficult, but I can’t do any more.”
Wilson said: “He was awesome. He literally gave me nothing at all. It was a very frustrating match. I felt everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. Sometimes in this game you need a bit of luck on your side. In a long format it can be swings and roundabouts, but it never went for me. John capitalised on that and kept turning the screw.
“I felt amazing coming in here tonight and as soon as I hit a couple of balls I realised that a weight is loose in my cue. That is another setback, but I’m not going to use it as an excuse. I had fancied having a good go of it until that point though.”
Meanwhile, Chinese debutant Si Jiahui moved just two frames away from securing his place in the quarter-finals, establishing an 11-5 lead over Englishman Robert Milkins.
Si earned his maiden place in the final stages by coming through three rounds of qualifying at the English Institute of Sport. The 20-year-old then scored a superb 10-9 win over Shaun Murphy in the opening round.
Milkins staged a brilliant fightback to win his opening round match against Perry, rallying from 7-2 down to edge through 10-9. However, he has it all to do tomorrow if he is to continue his Crucible run.
They came into this evening with Si leading 6-2 and the world number 80 extended that advantage. He compiled breaks of 71 and 67 on his way to taking five of the eight frames and leaving himself on the precipice of the last eight. They return from 1pm tomorrow afternoon.