John Higgins fired four centuries in a 10-3 thrashing of Ryan Day to set up a second round match with Ricky Walden at the Betfred World Championship.
Higgins hasn’t reached the quarter-finals at the Crucible since he won his fourth world title in 2011. The Wizard of Wishaw faces a tough battle against Walden next but certainly looks in good enough form to mount a serious challenge for a fifth Sheffield crown.
The 40-year-old was a prolific winner in 2015, capturing three ranking titles to take his career tally to 28, and clearly still has a burning hunger for silverware.
Higgins built a 7-2 lead over Day in the first session yesterday with top breaks of 105, 100 and 105, and despite losing the opening frame today, he went on to take the three he needed, closing out the match with a run of 121.
“In the last two or three years I’ve not really been in the right frame of my mind coming here because my form wasn’t great,” said Higgins. “But in the last 18 months I’ve definitely picked up again. I’ve got belief and that is all you can ask for.
“It’s a tough enough game and you struggle with your mind 99 per cent of the time out there. If you’re feeling okay within yourself than you have half a chance.
“Ricky was in really good form coming in, he’s been in the last two finals and was expected to come here and carry on that form. It is so difficult when you are out there in the first session trying to get through your first match. I’m sure he’ll settle down now that he is in the second round.”
Day said: “John played like he can and made the most out of my mistakes. I had chances, I just didn’t score enough. Today was always going to be an uphill struggle.
“There was the big frame to go 4-3 instead of 5-2 down and then obviously I needed to win the next two to have a fighting chance today. John finished the match strongly. He is a quality player and I had to play well to compete and unfortunately that didn’t happen.”
Meanwhile, Mark Allen recovered from a slow start to take a 6-3 lead over Mitchell Mann. Crucible debutant Mann made breaks of 69 and 77 in taking a 2-1 lead. Players Championship winner Allen then won five frames in a row with top runs of 64, 104, 85 and 78. Mann won the last of the session by potting the final pink to trail by three frames going into tomorrow morning’s conclusion.