World Snooker Championship 2018: John Higgins beats Kyren Wilson to reach final

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Five best shots from Williams’ thrilling win over Hawkins
2018 World Championship
Venue: Crucible Theatre, Sheffield Dates: 21 April – 7 May
Coverage: Watch live across BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Red Button, Connected TV, the BBC Sport website and mobile app.

Four-time winner John Higgins reached the World Championship final for the seventh time, setting up a meeting with two-time champion Mark Williams.

Higgins also reached the showpiece in Sheffield last year, when he was beaten by world number one Mark Selby.

The Scot secured his place in this year’s final by beating Kyren Wilson 17-13, while Williams edged to a late-night 17-15 triumph over Barry Hawkins

World Snooker Championship 2018: John Higgins beats Kyren Wilson to reach final
World Snooker Championship 2018: John Higgins beats Kyren Wilson to reach final

The final at the Crucible starts on Sunday at 14:00 BST and ends on Monday.

Higgins, 42, or Williams, 43, will be the oldest winner since Welshman Ray Reardon, who was 45 when he triumphed in 1978.

Both players are part of snooker’s ‘class of ’92’ – turning professional that year along with five-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan.

‘An extra special final’

Williams’ appearance in the final caps a remarkable turnaround for the Welshman. He did not even qualify in 2017, and last reached the final 15 years ago, when he defeated Ken Doherty.

He almost retired last summer and did not win a ranking title for six years, but a late-career revival has seen him claim two events this season.

And his performances at the Crucible have been a throwback to the turn of the century – when he was world number one – stroking in incredible long pots in his calm and languid manner.

Such was his dominance then, Williams is the last player to have held all three BBC events of the World, UK Championship and Masters at the same time.

Higgins said: “I don’t feel like the favourite. It will be another mammoth final and a great match.

“It has been a proud 20 years after winning my first one and now I am getting ready to compete in another one. It is a fantastic feeling.

“It will be extra special playing Mark. He has won it twice before and I am going for my fifth. He is bald, I am grey, so it will be a mental final.”

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Shot of the Championship? Williams’ ‘unbelievable’ pot

What happened in the dramatic final session?

Hawkins held a 13-11 lead going into the final session, helped by Williams missing a black off the spot with an opportunity to level.

The Welshman did the same in the first frame of the final session, but it did not prove costly on this occasion as a break of 55 proved sufficient.

Hawkins, runner-up to O’Sullivan in 2013, took a drawn-out frame before the tension increased and both players started to twitch on straightforward pots.

The Englishman missed the final red in both of the following frames, allowing Williams to level at 14-14.

The pair exchanged frames before Williams took the lead for the first time at 16-15 and claimed the one he needed on the black ball at 23:50 BST on Saturday.

Higgins shows his experience

Higgins, who won the most recent of his world titles in 2011, came into the final session against Wilson with a two-frame cushion at 13-11.

The Scot started with 40 but broke down after missing a red, allowing Wilson to make a classy 96 clearance to trail by one.

But Higgins was at his solid, match-play best throughout the contest, highlighted when he asked two young children to be moved from their seats in the front row as they were proving to be a distraction.

The hold-up did not unsettle him as he pinched the frame, as well as taking the next with a sublime 136 clearance.

Wilson pulled one back with a 53, but breaks of 100 and 98 put Higgins through.

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Higgins beats Wilson to book place in final – best five shots

Analysis – Separating the best from the rest

Seven-time world champion and BBC Sport pundit Stephen Hendry

It’s the ultimate match in your career and the ultimate place to play. There isn’t a bigger occasion but you have to keep composed and treat it like a normal match.

I would come in half-an-hour before the match starts and have 10 minutes on the practice table. I would feel physically sick, like I would throw up, feeling nauseous, and I felt like a coiled spring.

Just concentrate on the table, forget anything else. Treat it like any other game of snooker. It is difficult to do that, that is what separates the best from the rest.

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