John Higgins was victorious in one of the greatest ever Crucible quarter-finals at the Betfred World Championship, as he sealed a thrilling 13-12 win over Judd Trump.
On a night of tension in Sheffield, the steely Scot typically summoned some of his best snooker at the business end of a match which he trailed for the majority of. Incredibly out of the six deciding frames the four-time Crucible king Higgins has been involved in at the World Championship, he has now won five.
They came into this evening locked together at 8-8, after the Scot fought back in the second session from 7-3 down. Tonight’s action transpired in a similar manner, with Trump seizing the early initiative. He claimed the first two frames to make it 10-8.
Higgins pulled one back and there was then a dramatic 20th frame. It came down to a safety battle on the final pink, which Trump eventually edged before depositing the last two colours to go 11-9 ahead. The Ace in the Pack punched the air as he left the arena.
When they returned it was 30-time ranking event winner Higgins who turned up the heat. Breaks of 75 and 72 saw him force his way back level at 11-11. He then compiled a sensational run of 134 to move to the verge of victory at 12-11.
Higgins looked set to secure the win until he broke down with just three reds left. Trump stepped up by making an incredible clearance of 40, which included a nerveless cut-back black to get onto the last yellow.
In all came down to a nail-biting deciding frame. However, Higgins dealt with the substantial pressure and got over the line to reach the last four thanks to breaks of 43 and 41.
It is another tough defeat on the big stage for 2011 UK Champion Trump. He suffered a similarly agonising loss in his Masters semi-final in January, when he was beaten 6-5 against Kyren Wilson.
This is the ninth time Higgins has reached the last four at the Crucible and the illustrious Scot will now set his sights on a seventh World Championship final when he begins his semi-final clash with Kyren Wilson tomorrow afternoon at 1pm.
Higgins said: “I couldn’t really stand up straight at the end there. It’s an unbelievable venue, even if I had lost that match, the buzz was incredible. It was just a great feeling. I don’t know how many more times I’ll be coming back and having those feelings.
“I think the reason I won was that I just enjoyed it. I was thinking that even if I had lost, this might have been Judd’s time to win it. It must be heartbreaking for him, you see his Mum and Dad up there, and it is tough. I know what that is like, but personally to come out having won is a brilliant feeling.
“He was the better player in that match, I was just hanging on his coat-tails. He must hate the sight of me, but he will win the World Championship without a shadow of a doubt. He’s such a great all-round player now, his tactical game doesn’t really get talked about, but he plays some great tactical shots as well. Along with his potting capabilities, he’ll definitely be back to win it.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for Kyren Wilson. I think he believes he’s going to be World Champion, if not this week then in the future. He’s a really professional young guy. He’s all business and is learning every year. It’s going to be a mammoth semi-final.”
A disappointed Trump said: “I’m 28-years-old now and I need to start winning these tournaments if I want to be the best. I take no positives from losing. In the end I should have been tighter in the last frame, but the way he pots balls under pressure, I don’t think there’s anyone else who would even take those balls on, not even Ronnie O’Sullivan. I think he’s probably the most calm under pressure in the game.
“I thought I was unlucky to lose in the end. He played really well in the last four or five frames, but after I made that clearance at 12-11 you just want that chance. He twitched a red in the last frame but left it safe. He plays some amazing snooker at times, where you can’t play against him. I just stuck in there and you’ve got to get the luck against him. Time and time again it just doesn’t happen.”