Snooker: Day grabs initiative as Higgins flounders

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The Independent Online
John Higgins has his work cut out if he is to avoid becoming another top name to make an early exit from the World Championships at the Crucible Theatre here today.</p>Andy Hicks removed the world No 14 Quinten Hann in a bad-tempered affair yesterday but it will be a far bigger shock if 1998 world title holder Higgins falls to Welshman Ryan Day.</p>Day resumes with a 5-4 lead over the struggling Scot. Higgins looked in control when he took four of the first five frames. The 28-year-old compiled a 131 break in frame five - the highest of the championship so far. But Day, who was nervous early on, recovered to stamp his authority on proceedings.</p>Day began his recovery with a run of 111 and claimed frame seven after Higgins knocked in both a respotted black and the cue ball. Headded two more frames for an overnight lead.</p>Hicks had to be separated from Hann when their match came close to ending in a punch-up. Referee Lawrie Annandale had to stand between them after an exchange of words following Hicks' 10-4 win. The Australian Hann had already been warned for swearing and boiled over when Hicks said the defeat would relegate him from the top 16.</p>"I'd love to fight him," Hann said. "I've beaten him three times before, they were all close games and there was a bit of needle before the start. He shook my hand at the end and said: 'Well, you won't be in the top 16 next year'.</p>"I knew he was going to say something right from the start. He was doing subtle things like not getting out the way when I was coming to the table.</p>"I wasn't happy. I thought it was a bit low. I said to him: 'You're short and bald and always will be and you can have me outside whenever you want'. It was just a bit of harmless fun and entertainment for the crowd. It doesn't really upset me." </p>