World Snooker Championship 2013: Davis upsets John Higgins

 

World Championship

  • Venue: The Crucible Theatre, Sheffield
  • Date: 20 April-6 May

Coverage: Live on BBC One, Two, HD, Red Button, the BBC Sport website, mobiles and BBC Sport app. Updates on BBC Radio 5 live

Four-time champion John Higgins suffered a shock 10-6 defeat by Mark Davis in the first round of the World Championship at the Crucible.

Higgins led 2-0 but the world number 16 from Hastings forged 6-3 ahead overnight, with breaks of 85 and 96.

The Scot won two of the first three frames on Monday with runs of 92 and 69, but uncharacteristic errors allowed Davis to move within one of victory.

Higgins pulled a frame back but Davis made a composed 87 break to go through.

Despite winning the Shanghai Masters in September, defeat caps a disappointing season for Higgins, 37, who suffered a first-round Crucible exit for only the third time in 19 campaigns since his debut in 1995.

"It is just tough out there. Mark just punished me every shot I missed, and I did miss a couple of easy balls," said Higgins.

"Higgins was in somewhat resigned mood afterwards, feeling that age may have caught up with him. Certainly, he now seems susceptible to missing key balls when in the past he has been rock solid at the critical moments. Higgins, like Ronnie O Sullivan, is 37, O Sullivan having become the oldest player since Ray Reardon to win the title last year. Ironically, Mark Davis, three years their senior, is enjoying the most productive season of a career largely spent as a journeyman pro, but as Higgins graciously admitted, his victory was thoroughly merited."

"That is the difference now. I don't know if it is old age or not, but I just missed certain shots, and I don't know how I missed them.

"I could only ask other people who have been through it, but maybe the strain of it takes it out of you when you get to your late 30s and 40s.

"You can't just put it down to age because Mark is older than me, but maybe he hasn't been at the business end of tournaments so he hasn't got the grey hairs I have now.

"Anything half difficult I was missing and it put the pressure on me, and I couldn't cope with it in the end."

Davis would, in normal circumstances, have been seeded at the championship, but had to come through qualifying after Ronnie O'Sullivan's return to snooker.

Described by BBC snooker pundit John Parrott as 'the most improved player on the circuit', the 40-year-old was given one of the toughest draws, but clinched his biggest win at the Crucible on his eighth appearance.

"It is my best win ever, without a doubt," said a jubilant Davis, who has reached three ranking event semi-finals this season. "I know I beat him [Higgins] in the UK Championship, but I have never played well here in Sheffield.

"I am really proud of myself to play as well as I did.

"I knew it wasn't over and I still had a mountain to climb to win the last frame but the run of the balls was key today. John had none, and I had it all, but I played well both days."

"Maybe John Higgins should talk to somebody about what he's experiencing. Sometimes when a new season comes along you need a fresh approach to invigorate you. The good thing about next season is the top guys will be able to pick and choose which tournaments they play"

Despite taking a 2-0 lead at the start of the match, Higgins looked out-of-sorts, winning only one of the next seven frames.

Three frames behind at 6-3, Higgins opened the final session with a confident break of 92. The Scot was 57 ahead in the next, but missed a black off the spot and after a tactical exchange, Davis cleared up.

Higgins won another, but his opponent held his nerve in the 13th frame with a break of 81.

Higgins, who won his fourth title in 2011, was on a break of 21 in the next. Hoping to develop some reds, he potted the green at pace before seeing the cue ball roll into a pocket and, once again, Davis showed composure to move one frame from victory.

'The Wizard of Wishaw' pulled a frame back, but luck deserted him again in the next, inadvertently pocketing a red, as Davis came to the table to seal a superb triumph with an 87 break, setting up an encounter with either Stuart Bingham or Sam Baird in the second round.