John Higgins is through to the Betfred World Championship final after completing a 17-8 demolition of Barry Hawkins.
The last four victory sets up a repeat of the 2007 world final between the illustrious Scot and the now world number one Mark Selby. Ten years ago it was a 23-year-old Selby who assumed the role of underdog, as Higgins won a hard fought second of his four world titles to date. Now it is the Scot who will be looking to upset the odds when he takes on the defending champion.
Tomorrow’s final has an intriguing subplot to it. Whoever wins the title will beat Stephen Hendry’s record of most prize money accumulated in a single season.
A dominant session this morning from the 41-year-old, who will become the oldest world finalist since Ray Reardon in 1982, all but secured his place in tomorrow’s showpiece match. He needed just one frame coming into this evening, holding a 16-8 advantage.
When the players emerged this evening they were greeted by a rapturous reception. However, Higgins was in no mood for wasting time. He compiled a fine century run of 120 to get over the line and book his meeting with Selby.
Higgins said: “I’m delighted to get through, I can’t believe I’ve played like that and beat Barry 17-8. He will be bitterly disappointed with the way he played, he just didn’t turn up. I can’t believe he has played like that because I expected him to turn up and put in a performance. Thankfully for me he didn’t.
“You don’t know what is going to happen. It is going to be a one in a million chance at 16-8 behind but you just never know in this game. I’m going in thinking if he wins the first three or four then it is 16-12 and you’re under all sorts of pressure, but I’m delighted to finish it off.
“I’m just thinking one more match playing the best player in the world. That is the only thing I’m thinking about,” said the four-time champion. “Of course I’ll be nervous. I think as you get older the nerves are harder to suppress. I’m sure I’ll be a bag of nerves before it starts, but then I’ll settle down and make it a good final.
“The semi-final is basically the worst game to play, because you’re so close to competing in the biggest match of the season and you just want to get there. Although it is a big occasion in itself you really want to get through and be part of the final and especially with it being the 40th anniversary. It is a special year and I can’t wait.
“You’d have to favour Mark because he’s been more involved with these big massive matches in the last four or five years and I’ve not really been. Mark is big favourite for the title, but I feel as though if I can play my best game I can push him hard.”
A disappointed Hawkins was left frustrated that he didn’t put up more of a fight in his bid to reach a second world final.
“I had loads of opportunities. You don’t find many days where John plays like that and I didn’t capitalise. I was trying and trying, digging in as much as I could. I’ve had a great season and got to another semi-final, I can’t be too upset.”
“I didn’t give up. I still played the right shots, there was a point in that match where I thought about smashing the reds everywhere, but that’s not me, It would be disrespectful to John. He is a great champion and it’ll be a great final I can go home now and enjoy what time we have off.”