Fourth Title for Higgins

From DC Sport:

John Higgins won his fourth World Championship by overcoming future star Judd Trump 18-15 in an enthralling final at The Crucible in Sheffield.

The Scotsman completed a comeback from a 10-7 overnight deficit that mirrored his turnaround in fortunes over the last 12 months.

This time last year the 35 year-old was surrounded in allegations of bribery and frame fixing and was given a 6-month suspension for bringing the sport into disrepute.

Higgins returned towards the end of 2010 and won the UK Championship from five frames behind to beat Mark Williams 10-9 and has incredibly lost only three matches this season.

In February, Higgins’ father died and the Wizard of Wishaw shed some emotional tears as he prepared to lift the world trophy for a fourth time – putting him fourth on the all time winners list.

Higgins won the final four frames of the third session to come from 12-9 behind to lead by a frame going into the final bout of a play.

At 12-9, Trump went for a highly difficult blue along the cushion to open up a four frame advantage for the first time in the match but wobbled and an ever opportunistic Higgins spotted the chance to punish his inexperienced opponent.

And the champion in 1998, 2007 and 2009 immediately stretched his advantage to two frames in the evening session when Trump unluckily went in-off with the white when on a decent break.

Indeed, the Bristol ace never had the run of the ball throughout the night and only for that could have been celebrating his maiden world championship crown himself around now.

The reception the pair received when given their introductions was spine-tingling and was the likes of which that have never been seen before at The Crucible.

Higgins shook his head in amazement while Trump could not prevent a wide smile from being etched across his face when the duo shook hands for the final time, posing behind the famous silver trophy.

Trump stopped the rot of a five frame losing streak in the 27th frame and levelled matters in the next to square the clash up at 14-14.

The 21 year-old China Open champion had chances in the next frame to regain the lead but an unlucky split of the pack that left him snookered on the black meant that Higgins had the chance to peg back the points and eventually snatch the frame – one of many that the Scot stole over the two days of the final.

Again, in a final session that boasted very few big breaks, Higgins edged a scrappy frame to creep to within two frames of victory but Trump was proving difficult to grind down and under immense pressure reduced the arrears to 16-15.

At this stage, a first decider in 9 years looked to be on the cards but with both beginning to make more mistakes and a succession of pots missed it was in the hands of the vastly experienced Higgins to hunt down the glory.

Trump was visibly shaking while down on his shots and although he continued to knock in the amazing long pots, as he had done throughout the memorable tournament, he could not maintain position long enough to make frame winning contributions in one visit.

As Higgins reached 17 it looked apparent that Trump was going to go for everything in a desperate attempt to regain a foothold in the match and become only the second player after Dennis Taylor to come from two behind with three to play.

However, it was not be and, in another unbelievable twist, Higgins got the snooker he needed in the final frame when it looked for all money that we were entering a 34th frame out of a possible 35.

He double the pink, just like he had momentously doubled the brown in his triumph over Williams at Telford in December, and dropped in the black to emerge victorious in Sheffield for the fourth occasion.

The crowd were audibly disappointed as their new found hero could not put the finishing touched on what was his undoubted emergence to the big scene in not only snooker, but sport in general.

Alex Higgins, Jimmy White and Ronnie O’Sullivan have been the three superstars of the sport and it is evident that Judd Trump could be on his way to joining them in that very elite group of snooker heroes.

Yet, it is John Higgins, who many will now feel is swiftly entering the debate as to who is the greatest player of all time, that will go down in the history books as winning the 2011 World Snooker Championship.

Love or hate the guy after a controversial period in his career, Higgins is a true legend of snooker and one has to admire the determination of a man that has been at his lowest point, but has found away to rise from the brink and prove his potential as a champion once again.

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World Rankings Top 16

World Rankings after the British Open – won by Mark Williams.

1. Mark Selby
2. Judd Trump
3. Ronnie O’Sullivan
4. Neil Robertson
5. Kyren Wilson
6. Shaun Murphy
7. John Higgins
8. Mark Williams
9. Stephen Maguire
10. Ding Junhui
11. Mark Allen
12. Barry Hawkins
13. Stuart Bingham
14. Jack Lisowski
15. Yan Bingtao
16. Anthony McGill

Fin Ruane Snooker Academy