Snooker: Higgins' sparkling display accounts for Selby

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The Independent Online

John Higgins outscored and ultimately outwitted youngster Mark Selby to reach the second round of the World Championship in Sheffield yesterday.

John Higgins outscored and ultimately outwitted youngster Mark Selby to reach the second round of the World Championship in Sheffield yesterday.

The fifth seed won 10-5 to secure a meeting with Shaun Murphy having played some of the best snooker seen in the tournament so far.

There could hardly have been a more impressive start to the match as the 1998 champion opened with a 136 break and Selby immediately responded with a 135, while Higgins claimed a 5-4 lead thanks to a 106.

Higgins knocked in a 138, the highest break of the tournament so far, before clinching victory in a 42-minute 15th frame which his 21-year-old opponent had looked to have in the bag.

On the green and needing two snookers, the "miss" rule allowed Higgins to induce 11 consecutive fouls from Selby, putting him 13 points ahead without having potted another ball, and it proved the final act.

A visibly downcast Higgins admitted the tournament was lacking its usual sparkle because of the news that Paul Hunter is suffering from cancer.

"It has affected every player, it's terrible," added Higgins. "I haven't spoken to Paul but I'm sure he knows everyone is behind him. We are all hoping his scan brings some good news."

Earlier, Jimmy White shook off a bout of flu and a Fergal O'Brien revival to win 10-5 and book a second-round encounter with Matthew Stevens.

"The Whirlwind", six times runner-up at the event, led by a flattering 8-1 after the first session and despite being outplayed when the match resumed, he gained the two frames he needed to progress.

"I had been taking tablets for the flu until yesterday and then stopped, and it has come back a bit today. It makes you feel a bit fuzzy" the world No 11 said. "And Fergal played much better today.

"Hopefully, I can get rid of this cold and I'll be looking forward to playing Matthew."

There would be no more popular outcome than White finally lifting the trophy on his 43rd birthday and he knows he remains good enough to do it.

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