Higgins’ hopes dashed


Published: Saturday 25th April 2015 by The News Editor

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John Higgins saw his hopes of a fifth Betfred World Championship title ended for this year as Ding Junhui advanced to the quarter-finals.

World number three Ding trailed 5-1 and 7-5, but won out 13-9 to earn a shot at Judd Trump or Marco Fu in his next match.

The 28-year-old Chinese cueman has based himself in Sheffield for the last decade but cruelly the Crucible has been a bogey venue, with his best performance to date a run to the 2011 semi-finals, where Trump edged him out.

Last season Ding won a record-equalling five ranking titles to extend his career haul to 11, but this has been a barren campaign for the leading light of Asian snooker, meaning expectations of him were tempered heading into this tournament.

Victory over Higgins changes that. The 39-year-old Scot had looked sharp in his opening win over Rob Milkins, and recently picked up the Welsh Open title to end a two-and-a-half-year dry run.

When he opened up his substantial leads over Ding, it seemed the champion of 1998, 2007, 2009 and 2011 would kick on to reach the last eight.

But instead Ding struck back, and he led 9-7 heading into the Saturday morning final session, nudging closer to the winning line with breaks of 63 and 89.

Higgins held up Ding’s triumph by pinching a tight frame to close to 12-9, but he missed a key brown in the next, when trailing by 28 points.

That put Ding in control of his destiny. When Ding dropped in the penultimate red, he held a 44-point cushion, with 35 left on the table.

Misfortune struck as Ding glided off the last red when escaping from a snooker and the white fell into the yellow pocket. Higgins had a free ball, with the red hidden by the brown, and Higgins knew he would close to 12-10 should he clear the table.

But he missed a testing pink off the remaining red and was soon shaking hands, Ding through to the quarter-finals for just the third time in his career.

Published: Saturday 25th April 2015 by The News Editor

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