Snooker: Higgins has the composure

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The Independent Online
John Higgins came of age in Derby last night by beating Dave Harold 9-6 to claim the new Skoda Grand Prix title, but insisted: 'I didn't think I was ready to win a major title just yet.'

Higgins, who was at his lowest ebb two weeks ago after parting company with the manager, Ian Doyle, and the Team Sweater Shop stable, powered into a 6-2 first-session lead to lay the foundations for victory. 'I always felt confident I would do it, but I thought it might take a couple of years,' he said. 'This is a dream come true. I've never slacked off during practice and this is what you get if you practice hard enough. I've still got a lot to learn, but hopefully this could be the first of many titles.'

After the interval, the rivals shared the first four of the final session with Higgins leading 8-4, including a break of 118 in the 12th flame, and the pounds 60,000 first prize seemed as good as his.

But the world No 51 suffered an attack of the jitters. He led 45-1 but then missed a red, allowing Higgins to clear up to make it 8-5.

'I was already thinking of what to do when they handed me the trophy,' Higgins said.

Harold went on to take the next frame, but Higgins compiled an 82 break to complete his 9-6 success.