Monday, 2 May 2011

Higgins wins fourth Crucible crown

John Higgins is making history winning his fourth world title - but Judd Trump has changed the future of the game with his exciting performances in Sheffield.

By running out 18-15 winner in this sensational final, Higgins became the first player since the great Joe Davis to land the world title in three separate decades, adding to his triumphs in 1998, 2007 and 2009.

He's also now the third most successful player at the Crucible with only Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry with more titles to their names. This led Davis to label "the greatest player he's ever seen" and you can't really argue after this resilient display, showing why he's widely regarded as the best match player there's been.

Trailing 10-7 after the first day, Higgins followed in the footsteps of only Dennis Taylor, Hendry, Mark Williams and Shaun Murphy to have won a Crucible final from behind.

This is owing to his tremendous bottle and resilience. He won the crucial third session 6-2 to take a 13-12 lead into tonight, and despite his best efforts, Judd could never overturn it. Higgins was never going to be wrestled away from what he want on to describe as his best title yet.

That's for obvious reasons of course, as no-one has forgotten what a turbulent year this has been for the now world number two Higgins.

Just 12 months ago, the News of the World printed stories accusing him of match-fixing. He was temporarily suspended and returned to the sport some five months later. Since then, he's also had to come to terms with the death of his father, but has still gone on to win the Welsh Open, UK Championship and now earn world champion status.

It was no surprise that his comments after this match were fuelled with emotion - and the delight as he lifted the great trophy again was plain for all to see. It felt like the end of an almighty journey.

This final was far from all about Higgins though.

Terrific Judd more than played his part. You cannot argue he became the star attraction of this year's 17-day tournament. He took potting to a new level and proved he really will be a star of the game for many years to come.

Comparisons have already been drawn between him and the legendary Jimmy White. His ability to thrill the crowd has won him thousands of fans. And now he can look forward to a generation at the top of snooker. Up to number nine in the world rankings after this great run and his triumph at the China Open last month, he is the undoubted young star everyone is talking about. Even some of snooker's most ardent followers can be forgiven for not knowing quite how good the 21-year-old he was until this tournament.

He's always been one of the sport's most exciting potential talents, but now he's the force we were always promised. He's come of age.

In Sheffield this year, he played the game in a way we've never seen before. He broke the mould and took attacking snooker to an even higher height. He's brave and arguably the best potter the game has ever seen. He can hold his head high and shouldn't lose too much sleep after defeat tonight. His time will come, but tonight it's Higgins who is the new world champion.

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