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Higgins Beats O’Sullivan

From DC Sport:

John Higgins came from 8-5 behind to oust Ronnie O’Sullivan 13-10 at the World Snooker Championship in Sheffield today.

The Rocket looked to be in superb form, forcing his uncharacteristically nervy opponent against the ropes early on in their second session and built up an 8-5 advantage.

However, whether O’Sullivan’s focus or simply his lack of match sharpness after a bitty season overcame him, the fan favourite spurned a flurry of openings that gifted Higgins the highly anticipated clash.

In the other quarter-final encounters China’s Ding Junhui withstood a typically spirited fightback from Mark Selby, who regained parity after being four frames behind, but eventually edged him 13-10 as well to book his first ever semi-final berth at The Crucible.

Youngster Judd Trump and veteran Mark Williams completed their routs over Graeme Dott and Mark Allen respectively – both ensuring a last four place with similar 11-5 scorelines.

The semi-finals could not really have conjured up a more high quality quartet.

Welshman Williams has arguably been the player of the campaign this year and is almost certain now of becoming world number one for the third time in his career when this tournament concludes.

The 36 year-old last contested a semi-final in 2003 when he went on to lift the trophy for the second time but will be aware that he will face his toughest test so far in the event this year.

Williams has lost only 14 frames en route to the semi finals – the fewest of any of the remaining players – but John Higgins will provide a much sterner opposition.

The Scot has enjoyed an equally fantastic seasons since returning from the 6 month suspension he received for bringing the sport into disrepute on alleged bribery claims – allegations that came to light on the eve of the World Championship final in 2010.

Indeed, Higgins has won three events including the UK Championship when, ironically, he came from 9-5 behind to Williams to claim a dramatic 10-9 triumph.

Higgins, though, it has to be said has not been in the most devastating form in his opening three matches while Williams has appear almost nonchalant in the ease of effort he is able to express on the table. That said, it is really too close to call.

In the other semi, both Ding Junhui and Judd Trump enter this stage of the biggest tournament of them all for the first time in their careers.

Both are young – Ding is 24 while Trump is 21 – but the latter only tasted success for the first time at the China Open earlier this month while his Chinese opponent has been in the winner’s enclosure since emerging victorious at the very same event in 2005.

In addition, Ding has won the UK Championship twice as well as The Masters in January which means only the Worlds eludes him as far as the majors go.

This match is equally difficult to predict. Trump has played the better snooker – indeed, along with Williams he has probably played the most impressively over the two weeks.

However, it would be surprising if the inexperience on the very big stage didn’t eventually overwhelm the Bristolian and the fact that Ding has been so successful in other high profile championships could be the telling difference.

What it does make for is a compelling three days of snooker as four of the best cueists in the world – two legends in one stable and two pretenders to the throne in the other – do battle in the Crucible arena for a chance at glory in the final on Monday.



Creator of SnookerHQ and a journalism graduate, David has been actively reporting on snooker since 2011. He has been published in national publications and has appeared on BBC World News and on talkSPORT radio as an analyst.

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