Snooker: Bennett to face world champion

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MARK BENNETT is still rated a 40-1 chance to win the British Open title on Saturday despite an impressive 5-3 victory over Peter Ebdon at Derby last night.

The 29-year-old Newport professional remains the rank outsider of the surviving eight players mainly because he faces the world champion, Stephen Hendry, in his next match tomorrow.

'I haven't played Stephen since he's been going through something of a bad patch,' Bennett, the world No 27, said. 'Every time we've met he's played like God.'

The Scottish teenager, John Higgins, stretched his unbeaten run to 10 matches to earn a quarter-final against the defending champion, Jimmy White.

Higgins, Hendry's 17-year-old practice partner, has emerged from the world champion's shadow in this tournament with a string of fine displays, the latest being a 5-2 victory over Troy Shaw from the West Midlands.

Higgins, the former World Masters junior champion from Wishaw, Glasgow, has certainly come a long way since last summer's qualifiers. 'I remember being 4-1 down in one of my first games,' he said. 'But the guy just collapsed and I ended up winning 5-4.'

Shaw, the world No 121, threatened to end his Scottish rival's winning streak by taking two of the first three frames. His clearance of 35 to steal the third 70-69 might have crushed the spirit of lesser players.

However, Higgins recovered with a break of 57 to level at 2-2 by the interval. He then won three successive frames with runs of 49, 43 and 45 to clinch a place in his first major quarter-final.

WICKES HOME IMPROVEMENTS BRITISH OPEN (Derby) Fifth round: J Higgins (Scot) bt T Shaw (Eng) 5-2; M Bennett (Wal) bt P Ebdon (Eng) 5-3.