World Snooker Championship: John Higgins, Anthony McGill and Kyren Wilson progress at Crucible

By Owen PhillipsBBC Sport at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield
John Higgins
John Higgins was Crucible champion in 1998, 2007, 2009 and 2011
Betfred World Snooker Championship
Venue: Crucible Theatre, Sheffield Dates: 17 April-3 May
Coverage: Watch live on BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Four and Red Button, with uninterrupted coverage on BBC iPlayer, BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app.

Four-time champion John Higgins recovered from a "soul-destroying" start as a six-frame run saw him beat Chinese qualifier Tian Pengfei in the first round of the World Championship.

The world number five trailed 4-3 overnight and an error-strewn display saw him fall further behind at 7-4.

An edgy Tian missed countless chances with the win in sight and Higgins took full advantage to progress 10-7.

Back-to-back tons got the Scot over the line but he said he was "poor".

"Tian will be kicking himself," said Higgins, 45, who faces either Mark Williams or Sam Craigie in the last 16 at the Crucible.

"He had more than enough chances when he was 7-4 in front. I was gone and it's soul destroying. It was embarrassing because I was missing so many shots. I should be heading home.

"I was all over the place but he struggled as well. I think I was dragging him down. He played well at the start but maybe he was put off by my standard, which let me get back into the match.

"A couple of breaks at the end will be give me confidence. To turn it around is great, but I need to improve."

McGill tees up O'Sullivan date

World number 16 Anthony McGill joined countryman Higgins in the last 16 by closing out a stylish 10-5 win over Ricky Walden.

McGill, 30, resumed 5-4 up on his fellow former Crucible semi-finalist and breaks of 83, 130 and 69 helped take the lead to 9-5, with victory coming after a messy 15th frame.

Elsewhere, Jack Lisowski secured a 5-4 advantage over two-time finalist Ali Carter in all-English meeting.

Both players scored heavily, with eight breaks of more than 50 in the nine frames.

The best of the bunch was a 121 by six-time ranking event runner-up Lisowski, who trailed 2-0 and 3-1 before winning four frames in a row to ensure a first-session lead.

On a day of comebacks, 2020 runner-up Kyren Wilson rallied from 5-1 down after the morning session to overcome qualifier Gary Wilson 10-8 and earn a second-round meeting with either Barry Hawkins or Matthew Selt.

Gary Wilson, a 2019 semi-finalist, made the most of some uncharacteristic errors by his opponent as four scores of more than 50 helped him win five consecutive frames after losing the opener.

But a break of 82 settled Kyren Wilson and back-to-back centuries - including a magnificent clearance of 139 - helped him win six in a row, making further scores of 61, 58, 119 and 73 in seeing off his namesake.

Ding profits from lucky break

Ding Junhui
Ding Junhui reached the final in 2016, where he lost to Mark Selby

In the morning, an outrageous fluke on the final black of the session helped Ding Junhui take a 5-4 lead over Stuart Bingham in a fascinating start to a high-quality first-round match.

Bingham, the 2015 champion, scored two centuries as he went 3-1 ahead.

Former finalist Ding hit breaks of 105, 86 and 88 to level at 4-4 and took the ninth when the black rattled in he jaws in one corner pocket and dropped in the other side.

Fans keep their distance at Crucible

An entertaining morning's play was seen by just 83 fans, the lowest attendance in the eight sessions of World Championship action so far this year.

An easing of lockdown restrictions means the 980-seat venue could be up to a third full for first-round matches so fans have been back watching live snooker for the first time since the delayed 2020 World Championship finished on 16 August.

Sunday saw 389 tickets sold over three sessions, while the opening day saw the best attendance figures so far, with Ronnie O'Sullivan's presence no doubt helping sell 632 tickets in total.

The capacity can increase to 50% for the second round and 75% for the quarter-finals and semi-finals, with the aim to have a full house for the final.

A spokesman for World Snooker Tour said: "It has been fantastic to be the first government pilot event and to welcome back limited crowds. The numbers later in the event are much bigger, with some sessions over the coming weekend and final close to sell-out.

"We realise the conditions are different to previous years for fans, particularly that there are more restrictions on hotels and restaurants. We can assure all fans that all measures are taken to keep safety as a priority."

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