There were only two sessions yesterday at the Crucible as the tables were recovered ahead of the quarter-finals
All four matches were scheduled to play to a finish.
Here are the reports by WST:
Higgins Eases To Crucible Quarters
John Higgins remains on course for a first Crucible crown in 11 years, after beating Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham 13-7 in the last 16 of the Betfred World Championship.
Scotland’s Higgins won the most recent of his four world titles in 2011, when he defeated Judd Trump 18-15 in an enthralling final. He’s reached three world finals since then, in 2017, 2018 and 2019, but lost out to Mark Selby, Mark Williams and Judd Trump respectively.
Today’s victory sees Higgins through to the 16th Crucible quarter-final of his career, which eclipses Steve Davis and Jimmy White, who have both made the last eight 15 times. Now only Ronnie O’Sullivan (20) and Stephen Hendry (19) have reached more quarter-finals in snooker’s showpiece event.
Higgins has produced relentless consistency levels this season, having undergone a fitness regime last summer which saw him shed nearly four stone. He has 31 career ranking titles to his name, but is yet to add to that tally this term. Higgins has fallen short in four ranking finals at the Northern Ireland Open, English Open, Scottish Open and Tour Championship.
Saengkham will now return to Thailand to see his newly born daughter, named Believe, for the first time. She was born on the morning of his opening round tie with Luca Brecel, which he won 10-5.
Higgins came into this afternoon with a hefty 11-5 advantage. The Glaswegian scooped up seven of the eight frames in yesterday evening’s second session to leave himself on the cusp of victory.
It was the Wizard of Wishaw who looked set to take the first frame this afternoon, when he crafted a break of 62. However, Saengkham produced a 35 clearance to force a re-spotted black. Higgins eventually deposited a tricky shot to the right middle to move one from the win at 12-5.
A run of 70 kept Saengkham in the tie by giving him the 18th frame, before he embarked on a maximum attempt in the next. He thrilled the Crucible crowd when he potted the first 14 reds with blacks, but missed a tricky last red down the cushion to end his break on 112.
Higgins then stepped up with a break of 90 to get over the line and confirm his 13-7 win. He now awaits either Jack Lisowski or Neil Robertson in the quarter-finals.
“The psychology of this tournament is amazing. When I was losing 5-4 to Thepchaiya in the first round I was delighted, as I could have been further behind. When I was 4-4 after the first session of this match I was gutted, because I felt I could have had a lead. I’ve been through it all so many times, that I just try to forget about it as soon as I can and regroup,” said 46-year-old Higgins.
“He went for so many long balls, but it just goes to show you the confidence he has in his own game. He missed a couple in the second session and I got on top. Things can quickly get away from you and I know that too well having been here many times. It is just about putting your foot on the peddle and winning as many frames as you can.
“I think myself, Mark Williams and Ronnie O’Sullivan are three better players than we ever have been. Mark Williams is playing incredible stuff since he changed to the SightRight method, O’Sullivan is a different animal and is fighting for every frame and I’ve said quite openly that I think I’m playing better than ever. To be in the game for 30 years and to be playing better than ever is some achievement.”
Saengkham said: “He’s a very good player and I’ve learned many things from him. I don’t think I played very well and John did. He controlled everything about the game. I want to become a World Champion, so I need to play with World Champions like John. I’ll try my best next year and learn from this.
“I have another two days here, then I’ll go back to Thailand. I will hopefully have some time seeing my family before coming back ready for next season. My daughter is still in hospital and everything is okay. I’ve received a photo of her and I can’t wait to spend some time with her.”
Noppon made a fight of it and was extremely gracious in defeat, thanking both his opponent and the crowd. I’m sure he gained many fans over the last 10 days. Most Thai players I have met have this genuine kindness about them. They are humble and extremely hard workers. It would be a crying shame for the tour to lose them. As for John Higgins … he just played like John Higgins can play from start to finish.
Bingham Happy To Stay Under The Radar
Stuart Bingham pulled away from 8-8 to beat Kyren Wilson 13-9 in the second round of the Betfred World Championship, and the 2015 Crucible king admitted he’s content for other players to be talked about as the title favourites.
Bingham has proved beyond doubt his ability to beat the best on the Sheffield stage – in 2015 he got the better of Judd Trump, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Shaun Murphy, while last year he enjoyed a fine run to the semi-finals. To knock out Wilson, the 2020 finalist, was another excellent result for 45-year-old Bingham.
The Essex cueman is into the quarter-finals for the fourth time and will face either Judd Trump or Anthony McGill next. As it stands, Bingham remains a 14/1 shot for the title with Betfred.
“I’m fine with coming under the radar and just letting it happen,” said world number 12 Bingham. “Ronnie is always one of the men to beat, John Higgins is playing well, Judd’s back into form, Neil is man of the season, Mark Williams is playing unbelievable stuff. Every year is hard, whoever you play. It’s getting tougher and tougher because the class of 92 are still there and not easing up.”
Tied at 8-8 going into the concluding session, Wilson scored just 21 points in the first four frames today as Bingham surged 12-8 ahead with top runs of 97, 76 and 52. The first of those breaks had him on target for a 147 until he ran out of position on the third-last red and couldn’t leave himself a shot at the black.
After the interval, Bingham was on the cusp of wrapping up the match until he missed a tricky pot on the penultimate red when he led 66-27. The frame came down to a tactical battle on the last red and an error from Bingham handed Wilson the chance to clear up and reduce the gap.
Wilson had an opportunity to pull another back in frame 22 but, trailing 37-36, failed to convert a difficult pot on the second last red along the side cushion. Bingham cleared to the blue, which was enough for a place in the last eight.
“I felt as if I was in control for most match, though neither of us played particularly well yesterday,” added Bingham. “I’m just over the moon because every mistake Kyren made today, I punished him. At 12-8 it was more or less all over, but then things started to go against me a little bit. I showed some emotion at the end because it was good to get over the line. It could have easily been 12-10 and then demons start popping in your head.”
Asked about his 147 attempt, Bingham said: “It is on my bucket list to make one here so hopefully I will have another couple of chances next match. Before I retire, I want to get one here.”
World number five Wilson, who saw his streak of six consecutive Crucible quarter-final appearances come to an end, said: ‘’The momentum was completely with Stuart today, the first two frames killed my spirit a little bit. He showed what a great champion he is. It’s so hard to win this tournament so anybody that has managed to do that is obviously a great player in their own right, people shouldn’t forget that.
‘’It’s been a strange season for me, I’ve had about five cues on the go. I’m comfortable with what I’m doing now so I’ll only improve and get ready for next season. I don’t think there’s anything different I can do at this event, sometimes you need a little bit of luck on your side, when you have that you can go on and win these tournaments.”
The Stuart I watched yesterday reminded me of the man who won the title in 2015. He may downplay his chances, but I’m not bying it. He knows that he’s playing well and he knows that he can beat anyone on his day. He knows he can win the World Championship because he has done it before. If he can sustain the level he showed yesterday, he certainly can win it again.
Trump Battles Past Steely McGill
Judd Trump held off a gutsy Anthony McGill fightback to reach the quarter-finals of the Betfred World Championship, emerging a 13-11 victor.
The Ace in the Pack will now face Stuart Bingham in an intriguing quarter-final clash. The only other time the pair have met at the World Championship was back in 2015. On that occasion Bingham won out in a 17-16 epic, before beating Shaun Murphy in the final. Trump will be aiming to enact revenge this time around.
This evening’s match had looked to be on course for a one-sided finish, when 23-time ranking event winner Trump ended the second session 10-6 ahead. However, the Theatre of Dreams hosted drama of the highest order in front of a captivated crowd.
Scotland’s McGill ensured the tie went down to the wire with a barrage of breaks, while fans on the other table were treated to a nerve-shredding deciding frame in Jack Lisowski’s win over pre-tournament favourite Neil Robertson.
It was McGill who immediately turned up the heat this evening, firing in a century run of 106 in the opener. Trump responded in kind with 105 to extend his lead to 11-7, but the steely Scot refused to wilt inside Sheffield’s Crucible cauldron.
Breaks of 78, 77 and 124 pulled the two-time ranking event winner back within a frame at 11-10. Bristol’s Trump took the 22nd to move within one of victory, before Glaswegian McGill reeled him in again with a break of 51 to make it 12-11.
McGill had the first chance in the 24th frame, as he battled to force a decider, but missed a tough red to the top right corner with the rest. Trump eventually earned an opportunity with a long red and crafted a break of 55 to take control of the frame, which came down to a safety battle on the yellow. Trump won that battle and got himself over the line to clinch his place in the last eight.
Trump is aiming for a second World Championship win. He won the sport’s biggest prize in 2019, when he thrashed John Higgins 18-9 in the title match. His only other appearance in a world final was against Higgins in 2011, but he lost out 18-15.
McGill has historically produced some of his best snooker over the years in Sheffield. He made the semi-finals back in 2020, when he fell short in a colossal clash with Kyren Wilson 17-16. McGill beat Ronnie O’Sullivan 13-12 at this stage last year, but lost his quarter-final against Bingham by the same score. On this occasion he will have to settle for making the second round.
“It was one of the best sessions I have been involved in and the standard on both tables was good. Anthony was winning frames in one visit the whole time,” said 32-year-old Trump. “I don’t think when I won it, or even the first time I ever got to the final, it was anything like that. It was certainly the best session at the Crucible so far. It was amazing to be a part of that.
“I felt good. For me to get smashed up, playing the best I have throughout the tournament, is kind of strange. I can take a lot of positives and if I can start off like that and Stuart misses a few balls, unlike Anthony, then I have a good chance.
“It doesn’t get any easier. It is an amazing quarter-final lineup. It has been a great tournament so far and it is going to be even more special now. A lot of the top players have come through. After the season we’ve had, a lot of people expected shocks. It hasn’t been that way and it has made for a brilliant tournament.”
McGill said: “I can just appreciate I’m here, I loved every minute of it. I played well tonight, which was pleasing, because I didn’t in the first two sessions. I had felt bad about that because people are paying their money to come here and watch. I’m sure they had a good time tonight.”
That particular match had been hard work and utterly painful to watch for the best of the first two sessions but, yesterday, both players found something close to their best form. I wasn’t expecting that. In fact I wasn’t expecting anything in particular but I was surprised by the “transformation” of both players and that it happened to both simultaneously. But then, maybe it’s not that surprising. After all if players can drag each other down by playing poorly, they also can lift each other’s level up by playing well.
Lisowski Knocks Out Robertson In Classic Contest
Jack Lisowski scored the best win of his career as he reached the quarter-finals of the Betfred World Championship for the first time with an enthralling 13-12 victory over pre-tournament favourite Neil Robertson.
Australia’s Robertson earned a piece of Crucible history when he became the eighth player to make a 147 at the venue, but the night ended in disappointment for this season’s best player. It’s the eighth consecutive year in which Robertson has failed to reach the semi-finals.
For Lisowski, the result is a huge confidence boost, as he rallied from 12-11 down to win the last two frames of the first match in this year’s Championship to go to a decider. In a dramatic finish, both players missed chances in the last frame before world number 14 Lisowski took his opportunity.
His reward is a match with four-time champion John Higgins which starts on Tuesday at 2.30pm. Their only previous Crucible meeting came in the second round 2018 when Higgins dismantled his opponent by a 13-1 scoreline. But Gloucestershire’s 30-year-old Lisowski is now made of sterner stuff, as he proved tonight by keeping his composure at the crucial moments.
Leading 9-7, Lisowski made a strong start to the concluding session as a break of 49 gave him the first frame to extend his lead. The next came down to a tactical battle on the last red, and a weak safety from Lisowski handed his opponent the chance to pot the red to a centre pocket and clear for 10-8.
Robertson’s magnificent 147 came in frame 19, and he followed up with a run of 79 in the 20th to square the match at 10-10. Lisowski led 15-14 in frame 21 when his attempted red to centre his the far jaw, and again Robertson punished him with a run of 60 to go in front for the first time since he led 2-1.
Having lost four consecutive frames, Lisowski hit back with a break of 88 for 11-11. In frame 23, Robertson led 32-21 when he made a safety error, handing Lisowski a chance to clear. He got as far as the final green, but rattled it in the jaws of a baulk corner, and Robertson took advantage to edge ahead. World number three Robertson, the 2010 champion, might have clinched the result in the 24th, but ran out of position on 55 and had to play safe. Lisowski cleared superbly with 72 for 12-12.
The key moment in the decider came when Lisowski, leading 36-18 with three reds on the table, trapped his opponent in a tough snooker behind the brown. Robertson escaped but left a red over a top corner, and Lisowski added a match-winning 25.
“It’s my biggest win because Neil is the best player in the world at the moment,” said Lisowski, who has reached six ranking finals but is yet to win a title. “He threw at lot at me over the match. It’s a massive win for me, I feel great. I was pretty gone when he made his beautiful 147 and got back to 10-10. Everything was spinning.
“I felt good on the break to go 12-12. In the last frame we both made mistakes. When the last red went in I got a brilliant reaction from the crowd. It was so loud it shook me, I nearly jumped. It was a great night for the fans, a big advert for snooker and it was amazing to be part of it. Everyone likes the underdog, and I was definitely that. I’m probably the underdog in the tournament now. The crowd have given me a real boost.
“The goal at the start of the week was to make the quarters because I had never done that before. Now the goal is to win the thing. Having beaten the best player in the world, there’s no reason why I can’t. Higgins will be just as hard. I will give it everything I have got, play with a good spirit and a lot of heart.”
Robertson said: “It was an incredible match played in the right way, we both kept going for our shots and I have nothing but praise for Jack, he handled himself well. People have played far worse than I did and got through the last 16. Jack just played the absolute match of his life.
“To make the 147 was unbelievable and tops the season off because that is on everyone’s bucket list, to make a maximum at the Crucible. Once I split the reds I knew I had a chance. The tension was building, so to clear the colours without much stress, then get the cheer from the crowd, it was absolutely fantastic. As a kid you just want to have those kind of moments.
“My mum was in the crowd, and she was buzzing about it. She’ll probably be more disappointed than me about the result, but at least she got to see something special. I have won four big titles this season, it has been a dream.”
I never expected Jack to beat Neil and win this match, nevermind to do it in a decider, having lost four frames on the trot and gone from 10-7 up to 11-10 down. Jack has been working with Peter Ebdon and it seems to really work for him. Many of Jack’s fans have been wondering if he was ever going to do his talent justice … and almost lost hope about it. I’m one of them. Now I do believe again that he can and will do it.
Here is Neil’s 147 – shared by Eurosport on thei YouTube channel