Mark Williams leads John Higgins as veteran duo trade punches

JohnHiggins was compared to a Mexican boxer in the early stages of the Betfred World Snooker Championship final and will need to show all of that fighting spirit to overhaul Mark Williams and claim a fifth world title.

John Higgins, left, and Mark Williams pose with the trophy before the start of the World Championship final at The Crucible. Picture: PA
John Higgins, left, and Mark Williams pose with the trophy before the start of the World Championship final at The Crucible. Picture: PA

Fuelled by an unlikely diet of kebabs, sweets and chocolate, Williams raced into an early lead in the battle of the veterans and although Higgins did fight back, he still trails 10-7 overnight – with 18 the target for victory today.

Williams didn’t finish his gruelling semi-final with Barry Hawkins until almost midnight on Saturday, then tweeted at 2:15am that he was in a Sheffield kebab shop enjoying some doner meat and chips.

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The Welshman also gladly accepted wine gums and Galaxy Minstrels from a fan during the early going of Sunday’s final as he racked up a 4-0 lead.

As he has done throughout his career, the four-time world champion Scot determinedly fought back, narrowing the gap to 5-3 at the end of the afternoon session.

A back-and-forth evening ended with Williams taking an advantage into the final two sessions after winning the last three frames.

Higgins and two-time world champion Williams turned professional together 26 years ago and another member of that “Class of 92”, Ronnie O’Sullivan was in the Eurosport commentary box last night and said: “We all pushed each other on to higher levels.

“We’re probably like the Mexican boxers – they grow up fighting each other, they’re tough boys. When me, John and Mark were growing up, we played a lot of junior tournaments against each other. It made us tough.”

Higgins, 42, and 43-year-old Williams have the highest combined age of any pair of finalists during the 41 years the tournament has been held at the Crucible, while the winner will be the oldest world champion since Ray Reardon in 1978.

After going 4-0 down, a classy break of 119 got Higgins on the board. Williams’ 95 in the next restored the four-frame cushion but the Scot had breaks of 52 and 59 to claw two frames back.

In the first frame of the evening, Williams compiled a 72 to take it but the Wishaw cueman made breaks of 51 and 124 to narrow the gap to one.

The veterans then split the next four frames – making a century apiece –but Williams crucially edged back to three ahead at 10-7 by making 64 in the penultimate frame of the evening before pinching the last when Higgins 
accidentally knocked in the brown.

l Watch the snooker World Championship live on Eurosport and Eurosport Player
with Colin Murray and analysis from Ronnie O’Sullivan.