Posts Tagged ‘John Higgins’

Written by Rod Crowley: Having become the home to the PDC World Darts Championship, the Alexander Palace in London will now play host to the prestigious World Masters Snooker Championship, which gets underway on 15th January.
The top 16 players in the world will do battle over the week and although it is not a ranking event, a top prize of over £150,000 ensures that the game’s best players are all out to win.
As is the case ahead of any major snooker tournament, it is Ronnie O’Sullivan and world champion, John Higgins who are the favourites to win the title. The snooker betting makes O’Sullivan and Higgins the joint 11/2 favourites with twice winner and current world number one, Mark Selby, next best at 13/2 alongside 2011 world finalist and recent UK Championship winner, Judd Trump at 7/1.
Last year’s winner Ding Junhui will have the somewhat difficult task of taking on O’Sullivan in the opening match of the first round on Sunday, which effectively is a repeat of the 2007 final which the “Rocket” won with ease 10-3. 
Higgins meanwhile will be taking on resurgent Welshman and the winner in 2000, Matthew Stevens on Tuesday, while Trump takes on Stuart Bingham on Monday with Selby up against Stephen Lee on Wednesday.
With so much hype around concerning O’Sullivan, it is worth considering that he has not won a ranking event for over two years and although he showed signs of coming back to some sort of form in the recent UK Championship, he still found himself outgunned by Trump in the last 16. 
On the plus side, O’Sullivan has made the final of this event five times in the last seven years, winning three of the so cannot be ruled out of winning again.
Trump went on to win the final after beating O’Sullivan where he defeated the controversial Mark Allen 10-8 in the final. Allen from Northern Ireland, found himself in trouble with World Snooker’s Chairman, Barry Hearn, during that event, accusing Hearn of spoiling the tournament by shortening the length of the individual matches. However, the two men have made friends and Allen will come to the “Ally Pally” in determined mood and looking to go one better. 
He plays 2010 World Champion, Neil Robertson in the first round, another player who is beginning to find his best form.
Mark Williams, who has proven over the last two years that it is never too late for a snooker player to make a comeback, will open up his campaign on Sunday with a very difficult match against Scot, Stephen Maguire. Welshman Williams is now ranked at number two in the world and has won the Masters twice before. 
He would like nothing more than to win a third title but knows that he will have to pull out all the stops to beat Maguire who himself will be lookign to start the year with a good showing on the green baize.
A very difficult tournament to predict the winner, however, form and confidence are always major factors and there is no player on the circuit currently that has more of either than Judd Trump and he can start the new year where he left off in 2011.

With the more prestigious snooker tournaments, such as the UK Championship and the Masters, past approaching it’s time to consider who are the leading contenders for the sport’s biggest prizes this season.
Every year for the last 15 years or more, every snooker pundit in the land would have had Ronnie O’Sullivan as the first name down on the list, however, the “Rocket” appears to have an aversion to winning tournaments these days and has dropped down to number 12 in the world Snooker rankings. It would be no surprise if he was to bounce back; after all, he is the most capable player on the planet on his day. However, one attribute he no longer has is reliability and to that end, it is a great opportunity for some other players to steal the spotlight O’Sullivan has dominated for so long, here are five players who can make an impact at the major tournaments over the coming months.

Mark Selby

Currently at the top of the world rankings, the “Jester from Leicester” has been in a rich vein of form in 2011, appearing in the final of both the German Masters and China Open, where he lost in very close games against Mark Williams and Judd Trump respectively. He set a new record for the most century breaks at the World Championships in May, but could only make the last eight in the tournament, going down to Ding Junhui of China. However he won his last tournament, the Shanghai Masters in September after a thrilling battle with Williams which saw him come back from a 7-9 deficit to win 10-9. If he continues in that kind of form he is sure to feature in the latter stages of more ranking events and will be top of the snooker betting heading in to every tournament.

Mark Williams 

After a few years in the wilderness, Mark Williams is well and truly back to his best and has climbed back from snooker obscurity to the number two spot in the world rankings. He is a two time World Champion and a player who has won 18 ranking tournaments since turning professional in 1992. He has also been runner up in ten more and has also won the Masters tournament twice. Like Selby his recent form has been ‘top drawer’, making three finals this year already, winning the German Masters, before finishing runner up in the Australian Open and the Shanghai Masters. He was involved in a thrilling battle with John Higgins in the semi final at the World Championship, but had to accept second best again to the Scot; losing a classic match, 14-17. However, a return to former glories are not too far away and his objective will be to win a third World Championship next April.

John Higgins

The “Wizard of Wishaw” for many, is still the player to beat on the circuit, particularly in the big events. Higgins won his fourth World Championship earlier this year and is also the reigning Welsh Open and UK champion, tournaments he won after being suspended by the snooker’s governing body. His World Championship win was particularly poignant as it came in the wake of his father’s death. His recent form has been reasonable with two quarter final finishes and although he is only currently ranked third in the world behind Selby and Williams, there is absolutely no doubt that when the UK Championship begins in December he will be back to his best.

Judd Trump

Big things have been expected of this young man ever since he turned professional in 2005 at the tender age of 16. Now 22, Judd, as all snooker fans know, reached the final of the World Championship in April where he played supremely well when losing to Higgins by 15-18. He showed that he has every shot in the book and is certain to make a huge impact on the world snooker stage from now on. Just prior to the World Championship, Judd had lifted his first professional ranking tournament title by taking the China Open with victory over Selby and with age firmly on his side this could be the time when he establishes himself as one of the best around.

Mark Allen

Although only raked at number 13 in the world, this left hander from Northern Ireland has an excellent temperament during the bigger tournaments. Last season for instance, the 25 year old reached the Quarter Final of the World Championship, losing to Williams, the Semi Final of theMasters, losing to  Marco Fu and the semi final of the UK Championship, where he lost to Higgins. Allen is a superb break builder and is a player hugely respected on the circuit; for him it is merely a question of when and not if he wins a tournament and that wait may not be too far away.

Written by Rod Crowley

John Higgins made a dramatic comeback from 9-5 down to beat Mark Williams 10-9 to win his third UK Championship.

The 35-year-old had only recently returned to the sport after being banned.

In April 2010 Higgins and his manager, Pat Mooney were filmed in a sting operation conducted by the News of the World newspaper.

Higgins was cleared of match fixing on 8 September 2010 following a tribunal. However, he was found guilty of bringing the game into disrepute by not reporting the approach the News of The World made towards him.

John Higgins received a six month ban and fined £75,000

“I was a man on a mission. I was really determined to try and stop anything which prevented me from winning it,” Higgins said.

“Given everything that surrounds it, this is my finest hour on the table. It means everything, just to be back playing and winning. It means a great deal.

“Obviously it means a great deal to my family as well.”

He added: “I just never gave up. I thought 9-5 was too big a mountain but each frame was going past and I was still in it. It is an unbelievable feeling.”

Higgins down and out after slipping down 7-2 and then 9-5 but Williams was unable to finish off the match after moving to the brink of victory.

“John done well to come back to be fair to him,” the defeated Welshman said.

“I felt the gods were against me on a couple of occasions but I have got no complaints overall.

“I have been pretty dreadful all week. That was probably the best match I played all week. The best player in the tournament won but I had a chance to nick it and probably threw it away.”