Saturday 22 October 2016

Higgins: I can compete with the world's best players

John Higgins celebrates. Photo: Getty
John Higgins celebrates. Photo: Getty

Four-time champion John Higgins eased into the second round of the Betfred World Championship with a comprehensive 10-3 victory over qualifier Ryan Day.

The Crucible has already seen four former champions bow out in the first round, with Graeme Dott, Stuart Bingham, Peter Ebdon and Shaun Murphy all leaving Sheffield early, but there was never any danger of Higgins joining that list.

The damage was all done on Monday morning as Higgins plundered three century breaks to take a 7-2 lead.

The 40-year-old Scot lost the opening frame at the resumption yesterday afternoon but won the next three frames to get the job done, knocking in a magnificent break of 121 to clinch the match. Higgins has not gone past the second round at the Crucible since last lifting the trophy in 2011 but he feels his major ranking event wins this season in Australia and China might help him to reach the latter stages of the World Championship once again.

"I think that only comes with winning things and those three tournaments have given me that belief again that I can compete with the best players," said Higgins.

World number one Mark Selby held off a spirited fightback from Robert Milkins to secure his passage through to the second round of the World Championship.

Despite the 32-year-old coming into yesterday's morning session 7-2 up, Milkins dominated the first four frames to leave the match wide open.

The Milkman took the first three with breaks of 50, 61 and 62 and won the fourth, despite a 60 from Selby, to head into the mid-session interval just one frame adrift of the 2014 world champion.

Selby, though, regained his touch by winning the next three frames - the last after a re-rack - as breaks of 67 and 70 helped to seal a 10-6 victory. He will face qualifier Sam Baird in the next round.

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