Snooker: Spectator calls Higgins 'a disgrace'

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The Independent Online

John Higgins was challenged by an angry fan here last night who called him "a disgrace" over last year's frame-fixing furore. The three-time world champion was engulfed by the affair 12 months ago following a newspaper sting operation on a trip to Kiev with former manager Pat Mooney.

He was cleared of corruption at an independent inquiry but he was banned for six months and fined £75,000 effectively on disrepute charges, for failing to report the encounter promptly. He returned in November.

Higgins was at the table in last night's World Championship semi-final against Mark Williams – who he beat 17-14. The spectator shouted: "How did you swallow that £300,000? We know what you did, you're a disgrace to snooker."

But a visibly shaken Higgins shrugged it off to continue the break in the 28th frame, and went on to make 123 before the mid-session interval. Williams told him: "Don't take any notice of that, John." Referee Eirian Williams then asked security to show the fan out of the arena.

At the end an emotional Higgins – whose father died this year – pointed to the heavens before punching the air. He said: "It didn't put me off, although I was a bit rattled at the time. All credit to Mark Williams for what he said to me when we were hard at it. It tells you all about him. Of course it was emotional at the end, it's been a long 12 months and it would be unbelievable to win it this time. It was my mother's birthday, she'll be here tomorrow."

Higgins will face Judd Trump as the 21-year-old continued his fairytale run with a thrilling semi-final win over Ding Junhui in the match of the tournament.

With his 17-15 win over the Masters champion, he becomes the second-youngest man to reach a final here, after Stephen Hendry who lifted the trophy at his first attempt in 1990.

Trump, who won with a century, said: "It was by far the best match I have ever been involved in, and to beat someone like Ding playing as well as he was is just great. I have never felt so nervous as in those last couple of clearances."

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