Snooker: Higgins conquers his first-round nerves in style

John Higgins, the triple world champion, admitted he felt a bout of nerves before digging deep to secure his place in the last 16 stage of this year's World Championship.

Higgins clinched a 10-5 victory over Stephen Lee in their first-round match in Sheffield last night, but despite compiling four centuries and leading 6-3 overnight, Higgins, the world No 1, said he was far from happy with the start to his challenge.

"I didn't feel so good starting off, I was really, really edgy," confessed Higgins who, since returning from a six-month ban for bringing the sport into disrepute, has won five tournaments.

"I was lucky because Stephen let me off the hook a little bit at the start of the match. I was delighted to be 6-3 up after the first session because I didn't feel great about my game. It doesn't matter who you're playing in your first match at the Crucible, there's always going to be nerves. But I felt a lot better in the second session and I played well."

Breaks of 124, 74 and 81 did the trick in the final session and Higgins now faces qualifier Rory McLeod, from Wellingborough, on Sunday. "There'll be people thinking I'm the man to beat, but there's a lot of players capable of winning this," added the 35-year-old. "The standard is so high, if you look at my draw I'm going to have to do it the hard way."

Mark Selby, the 2007 Crucible runner-up, is showing ominous signs that he's in determined mood to win the title. The self-proclaimed "Jester from Leicester" certainly was not joking as he powered to an impressive 10-1 first-round demolition of Jimmy Robertson, of Sussex, at snooker's grandest stage.

Ahead 8-1 overnight, Selby needed just over half an hour to win the two frames he needed to dispense with a nervous Robertson and progress to the last 16. The world No 3 revealed he has an extra incentive to win his first World Championship. Next month the 27-year-old marries his long-term girlfriend Vikki Layton, a semi-professional ladies pool player, in Cancun, Mexico.

"It [the wedding] will be a great occasion, but it'd be nice to put the icing on the cake and to go there as world champion," said Selby. "I've managed to get out of all the planning, so the longer I stay in the tournament the better because I'll be able to get out of some more as well."

Mark Williams, the two-time world champion, maintained his fine form this season and put one foot in the quarter-finals. The Welshman, a Crucible winner in 2000 and 2003, powered into a commanding 7-1 over Stoke's Jamie Cope after the opening session of their last 16 match.

Williams compiled breaks of 49, 51, 72 and 49 to lead 4-0, before Cope – who mustered a top break of just 38 – won a scrappy fifth frame. But it remained one-way traffic as Williams won the next three frames with runs of 54 and 44 to give himself a great chance of winning their best-of-25 frame match with a welcome session to spare.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
glastonbury
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Shock of the news: Jake Gyllenhaal in ‘Nightcrawler’
filmReview: Gyllenhaal, in one of his finest performances, is funny, engaging and sinister all at once
Life and Style
Taste the difference: Nell Frizzell tucks into a fry-up in Jesse's cafe in east London
food + drinkHow a bike accident left one woman living in a distorted world in which spices smell of old socks and muesli tastes like pork fat
Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington has been given a huge pay rise to extend his contract as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Don’t send in the clowns: masks and make-up conceal true facial expressions, thwarting our instinct to read people’s minds through their faces, as seen in ‘It’
filmThis Halloween, we ask what makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?
News
peopleFarage challenges 'liberally biased' comedians to 'call him a narcissist'
Arts and Entertainment
Liam and Zayn of One Direction play with a chimpanzee on the set of their new video for 'Steal My Girl'
music
Arts and Entertainment
Young Fathers are the surprise winners of this year's Mercury Music Prize
music
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior IP Opportunity at Major Firm

vary Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - AN OPENING AT A VERY HIGH Q...

Nursery Manager

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Ilford: Nursery Manager Long term Ran...

Sales Consultant – Permanent – West Sussex – £24-£25k plus commission and other benefits

£24000 - £25000 Per Annum plus company car and commission: Clearwater People S...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£45 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Bris...

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes