Snooker: Four Scots fight it out

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The Independent Online
JOHN HIGGINS stylishly applied the finishing touches to a Scottish success story at the China International in Shanghai yesterday when he defeated Paul Davies 5-2 to complete a unique Scottish monopoly on semi- final places in the world- ranking tournament at the Mandarin Hotel.

"This is superb - a momentous day for snooker in Scotland," declared the world champion, who will now face Alan McManus in one semi-final today while Stephen Hendry and Billy Snaddon meet in the other.

"Before Stephen came on the scene in the late 1980s it would have been something special for one Scot to be in the semi-finals of a tournament. Now we've got all four, it's brilliant, said Higgins.

"I was under a little bit of pressure out there because I was the last leg of the four-timer and it was on my mind. Now, though, I'm really looking forward to the weekend."

In the past only England have managed to occupy all four semi-final berths in a major competition.

Trailing only 3-2 after grittily winning frame five, the world No 41 Davies - who caused an upset by ousting Mark Williams in the last 16 - had the chance to extend his giantkilling sequence.

But Higgins clicked up a gear, producing a 112 clearance in the sixth frame before smoothly taking the match with a break of 86 after Davies had missed a straightforward red.

"It wasn't a good game and if Paul had taken his opportunities I could well have struggled," admitted Higgins, who hopes to avenge his 5-4 quarter- final defeat by McManus at last week's Thailand Masters.

"I suppose I owe Alan one after what he did to me in Bangkok, but whatever happens it's now guaranteed that a Scottish name will be engraved on that Cup and that's great."

Hendry and Snaddon have practiced together on a regular basis at Spencer's Snooker Centre, Stirling, since the latter turned professional in 1991 but have never met in competition.

"I'm particularly happy for Billy because he's making his debut in a semi-final," added Higgins.