John Higgins has become the fourth player into the World Championship quarter-finals after a fantastic 13-9 victory over Mark Allen on Saturday.
The four-time Crucible champion was in supreme form as he overcame Allen in a high-quality encounter full of big breaks.
Allen compiled four centuries and seven additional breaks above 54, but won only nine frames.
Higgins also scored heavily with a brace of tons, continuously improving as the contest got down to the nitty gritty of the final session.
Both players finished with a pot success rate of 94%, an incredible standard considering the duration of the match.
Higgins may have ended up winning by four frames but in reality it was a much closer affair than that.
Indeed, the result hinged on three massive moments which could have swung the balance of favour in the Northern Irishman’s direction.
Allen dominated the first session with a hat-trick of centuries but only led 5-3 after he rued a missed opportunity in the last frame by missing a difficult green when in with a chance to steal a four-frame cushion.
Higgins duly won the first four frames of the second session to surge in front, a lead he then succeeded in never relinquishing.
Allen subsequently twice could have levelled at crucial junctures in the 14th and 18th frames, only for Higgins to respond with trademark clearances of 72 and 63 to crushingly deny the 2009 semi-finalist.
The latter frame arguably hurt the most as it materialised as a result of a kick when the 31 year-old was within a couple of balls of evening the scores.
In a fixture of precious few mistakes, Allen did hardly anything wrong but was forced to watch in his seat as Higgins didn’t miss a ball of consequence when the winning line was in sight.
The Scot moves into the last eight in Sheffield for the 13th time in his illustrious career and he’ll take some beating if he’s to be denied a first semi-final appearance since he last tasted global glory in 2011.
Kyren Wilson represents the next obstacle and the Englishman will have to considerably up his game if he’s to have any chance of denying Higgins on current form.
With fellow all-time legend Ronnie O’Sullivan also making it through on the second Saturday, there remains the possibility of what would prove to be a mouth watering final between the pair.
There’s a long way to go before that can potentially transpire but the duo is certainly playing well enough to suggest it could happen.
With four thoroughly entertaining second round clashes now complete, the 2017 World Championship has certainly sparked into life and there is a growing sense that it could be a barnstorming second week to come.
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