John Higgins happy with form at last

John Higgins celebrates after his comprehensive first-round win over Ryan Day at The Crucible. Picture: PA

John Higgins celebrates after his comprehensive first-round win over Ryan Day at The Crucible. Picture: PA

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In the last decade it has been difficult to know which John Higgins will show up at the Crucible.

But, following his comprehensive World Snooker Championship first-round defeat of Ryan Day, the “Wizard of Wishaw” believes that his form is as good as it has been for some time.

Three of Higgins’ four world championship triumphs have come in the last nine years but, in between, he has not made it past the second round.

His 10-3 defeat of Day on Tuesday afternoon was, in fact, only his second win at the home of snooker since 2012.

But, as he now prepares to go head-to-head with world No 9 Ricky Walden – who laboured past qualifier Robbie Williams on Monday night – when round two begins on Saturday, Higgins believes he is striking the cue ball as well as ever.

“I still enjoy it, it’s brilliant,” said the former world No 1.

“To come here and get an easy game, in terms of the way I won it, it’s a great arena to play in, I’m delighted to win.

“I think I’m hitting the ball good. I don’t know how good or bad as I was 10 years ago, but I’m feeling good and I’ll see where that takes me.

“I came here in the last two or three years not really in the best frame of mind because of my form. But, in the last 18 months, it really has picked up again and if it just gives you that inner belief that is all you can ask for.

“It’s a tough enough game, and you struggle with your mind 99 per cent of the time out there. But if you feel okay within yourself you have got half a chance.”

Higgins showed glimpses of the form that made him a multiple world champion with three century breaks in the first session to go 7-2 in front.

However, Walden threatened to set a cat among the pigeons when he took the opening frame of Tuesday’s afternoon’s session.

But Day failed to follow that strong start through, and loose safety shots, needless fouls, including one after his sleeve touched a red he was bridging over, and wayward potting all played into Higgins’ hands.

The Scots pinched frame 11 after trailing and then made 
a 52 break to move within one of his victory target.

And Day could do nothing but watch as Higgins glided around the table to make 121, his biggest break of the match.

“I’m really delighted to beat Ryan,” added the world No 8.

“He’s beaten me in the last two or three matches and they have been good games, so I’m made up.

“Ricky [Walden] has maybe struggled because he knows he was in good form coming in, he has been to the last two finals and was expecting to come in and carry on the form.

“But everybody knows the first session, when you are trying to get through the first round, is so difficult.

“I’m sure he’ll settle down now he is in to the second round and hopefully me and him will have a great game.”

l Watch the World Championship live on Eurosport, with Colin Murray and analysis from Jimmy White and 
Ronnie O’Sullivan.

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