Snooker: Higgins maintains progress

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The Independent Online
JOHN HIGGINS, the 18-year- old Scottish prodigy, secured his place in the last 16 of the Skoda Grand Prix at Reading yesterday with a 5-3 victory over Nigel Bond, the world No 9.

Higgins, who beat the former world champion, Joe Johnson, in the previous round, suggested that he had been motivated to do well by the performance of his 17-year-old rival, Ronnie O'Sullivan, in reaching the semi-finals of the Dubai Classic earlier this month.

'Maybe to keep reading and hearing about how good Ronnie is spurred me on a wee bit,' Higgins said, after compiling eight 30-plus breaks. He now meets Steve Duggan or John Parrott, the world No 2, for a place in the quarter-finals.

Cannock's Steve James indirectly benefited from a sudden downpour on Wednesday as he beat the unfortunate Mick Price 5-0.

Price, caught in rain as he walked back to his hotel, was horrified when he opened his cue case yesterday to find his tip completely saturated. James met with little resistance and will next meet Thailand's James Wattana or Gary Wilkinson.

Martin Clark, a former West Midlands county team-mate of James back in their amateur days, survived a strong fightback from Mike Hallett to edge through 5-4. Clark, the world No 12, produced a splendid 138 total clearance on the way to a 4-0 lead, and made a vital 57 in the decider after Hallett had won four successive frames to level.