World Snooker: John Higgins prevails over O'Sullivan

WORLD SNOOKER CHAMPIONSHIP

Venue:
Crucible Theatre
Date:
16 April-2 May
Coverage:
Live on BBC One, BBC Two, BBC One HD, Red Button and BBC Sport website (UK only); updates and reports on BBC Radio 5 live; catch up with BBC iPlayer

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Higgins flukes red to set up victory

John Higgins overcame his great rival Ronnie O'Sullivan 13-10 in the World Championship quarter-finals to book a semi-final with Mark Williams.

O'Sullivan led 7-4 at one stage but the Scot won the last three frames of the second session to level matters at 8-8.

He won the first on the resumption before O'Sullivan knocked in 116, but Higgins proved the more consistent.

He won three frames in a row before O'Sullivan rallied with 94, but a fluke allowed Higgins to seal it with 79.

Attempting to play a safety shot from the bottom cushion, the three-time champion enjoyed a fortuitous plant on a red into the middle pocket, and took full advantage of his good fortune.

It was an unfortunate way for O'Sullivan - also a three-time Crucible champion - to ultimately lose, but he wasted several opportunities in the final session when well placed.

"At 8-5 down I thought I was on my way out of the tournament because Ronnie's the best front-runner we've got," the 35-year-old Higgins said.

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Positive O'Sullivan reflects on defeat

"You can forget it sometimes. So it was lucky for me he missed a few he wouldn't normally miss.

"I don't know how I got back to 8-8. To say I was delighted would be an understatement. I felt I couldn't play any worse, and I couldn't afford to tonight, and I decided to be really positive and it worked out."

A poor attempt at a snooker on the final red cost O'Sullivan the first frame of the evening, but a brilliant long red along a cushion launched a break of 116 to make it 9-9.

Neither player consistently reached the heights of which they are capable, and Higgins - chasing a third title in five years, and fourth overall - capitalised on several errors with runs of 63, 65 and 73 to move within one frame of victory.

'The Rocket' responded with a fine 94 after Higgins missed a tricky pink to take the next, but the Scot closed out the match in style after his stroke of luck to record his fifth win in his last six ranking-event meetings with O'Sullivan since 2008.

O'Sullivan, who made the quarter-finals on the back of four first-round defeats in major events, conceded Higgins was a worthy victor, despite both missing a number of easy chances.

"I made far too many elementary mistakes which is unforgivable at this level, or any level, even amateur level," the 35-year-old said.

"I can't sit here and say I deserved to win because I don't think I did. I think I did well to get 10 frames."

It was only three weeks ago that O'Sullivan changed his mind after initially withdrawing from the tournament, claiming he was lacking motivation.

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Behind the scenes at the Crucible with Rob Walker

However, after linking up with sports psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters and delivering a reasonable showing at The Crucible, he is more optimistic about his future prospects.

"It was still sub-standard snooker, but I wasn't smashing myself to pieces out there," he added. "I'm in a better place, I feel happier, I feel better about life.

"It's not the playing that was hard for me, it was the in-between bits, the thinking and pondering about playing. I know it's not going to improve my game but if I can feel better about playing rubbish then I might hang around.

"I still want to play well. It's a work-in-progress thing, and if it means thinking great but playing like that, that isn't good enough for me. But I'll be patient with it."

It was a relieved Higgins who secured a semi-final date with in-form Welshman Williams, who comfortably disposed of Mark Allen 13-5 in his quarter-final.

Higgins has lost both their previous encounters at the Crucible, 17-10 in the 1999 semi-finals, and 17-15 at the same stage a year later, when Williams went on to win the first of his two world crowns.

"Playing Williams now will be a very tough game. He's beaten me twice before in semi-finals here, and he's back to playing the way we all know he can play," Higgins said.

"That'll be just like a final because there's only one less frame than the World Championship final, and it's something to look forward to."

Follow BBC Sport website's snooker man Mark Ashenden on Twitter

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