Higgins crushes Wilson to reach Crucible quarter-finals

Higgins crushes Wilson to reach Crucible quarter-finals

John Higgins powered into the quarter-finals of the World Championship with a 13-2 demolition of Kyren Wilson.

Wilson’s hopes of a revival sat somewhere between slim and non-existent.

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Slim left Sheffield when he surrendered the opening frame of the evening and despite avoiding the whitewash by taking the 11th frame, Higgins wrapped up victory with a session to spare.

Higgins, like his fellow class of ‘92 alum Ronnie O’Sullivan, secured an extra day off and can now look forward to a quarter-final against either Mark Selby or Gary Wilson.

Higgins carried on the form from the morning session by crunching in a long red to get the ninth frame underway.

Higgins drains delightful long-range red to continue Crucible masterclass

It came as a surprise when he ran out of position on 26, and an even bigger one when he went for an extremely high-tariff red to right middle that stayed up and invited a counter.

Wilson’s highest break of the opening session was 40, which he eased past and looked set to notch his first frame of the contest.

Faced with frame-ball black off its spot, the pot never really threatened the pocket. One shot later, he was in a snooker. The escape left Higgins with a shot at the red, which he knocked in. A man who has won oodles of frames from behind never faltered in the clearance to make it nine unanswered frames.

Gifting the ninth frame was a hammer blow to Wilson, and he played an awful safety in the 10th to suggest he was completely gone.

Higgins has been a merciless operator throughout one of snooker’s great careers, and passing up the chance was never likely to happen.

A break of 128, the 940th century of his career, took Higgins to 10 frames with his opponent on nought – a startling scoreline given Wilson came into the match as the bookmakers’ favourite after he made five centuries, one of which was a maximum, in his mauling of Ryan Day in round one.

Higgins on unusual Crucible conditions: ‘That’s bad, isn’t it?’

Wilson stopped the rot, and ensured he avoided an unwanted piece of history when taking the 11th. There had only been two Crucible whitewashes, both of which came in the first round, but his run of 78 ended the possibility of Higgins inflicting one in the last-16.

It could be argued that Wilson was unfortunate on occasions in the first session. Issues in the second session were of his own making. He appeared to have concerns with the balance of his cue, but the missed black in the opening frame of the evening came before any problems.

And in the 12th, his downfall came on account of a poor shot choice. He was in control of the frame with Higgins needing a snooker on the colours. He laid one, and Wilson went for the swerve which brought the free ball into play should he miss. Contact was not made, Higgins was awarded a free ball and he mopped up the colours to extend his lead to 11-1.

Higgins pulled off a string of stunning pots in the 13th, including an outrageous black down the bottom rail that looked sure to stay up and had the commentators questioning the ease of the table.

‘That’s ridiculous!’ – Higgins left shocked as black drops when he’s near his chair

The Scot seemed in a mood to end the match quickly, but he broke down and Wilson picked off a half-century to double his tally of frames.

There did not appear to be too much wrong with Wilson’s cue when he pulled off a couple of outrageous pots in the 14th, but his break ended on 39 when he went in-off.

After the fireworks of earlier in the match, things turned scrappy in the 14th as Higgins went a little off the boil, but he knocked in a tough yellow which helped to seal a 37-minute frame.

With the winning line in sight, Higgins wasted no time in sealing victory as he raced through a break of 80 to book his ticket to the quarter-finals.

Si Jiahui’s fairytale Crucible debut looks set to roll on as he holds an 11-5 lead over Robert Milkins going into the final session on Monday afternoon.

There was the prospect of the match finishing with a session to spare after Si extended a 6-2 lead from Saturday into a 10-3 advantage.

Milkins won two frames in a row, the second of which came despite him taking nine attempts to get out of a snooker, but the 20-year-old Si won the 16th to move within two of victory.

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