Snooker: Relaxed Higgins eases into quarter-final

JOHN HIGGINS, whose 8-0 whitewash of Mark King on Thursday evening had pointed to victory with a morning to spare, had to put in a brief appearance yesterday to make an 80 break and complete the 13-4 win which carried him into the quarter-finals of the Embassy World Championship at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield.

Either the Grand Prix champion Stephen Lee or Alan McManus, the No 8 seed who was too steady for Jimmy White, will oppose him. The defending champion's display in the opening session was, he reckoned, "probably the best I've played all season". His avalanche of breaks, starting with 75, 104 and 108, almost created the illusion he had no opponent and it was much to King's credit that he made his presence felt with 99, 103 and 103 on Friday afternoon when he could easily have won six or seven frames. "I was a bit too relaxed for the second session," said Higgins. "But I feel very relaxed generally."

John Parrott's 11th Crucible quarter-final opponent will be either the unpredictable Ronnie O'Sullivan or Joe Perry, the world No 74 from Wisbech, whose 55 clearance to beat Steve Davis 10-9 on the final black was the most dramatic moment of the opening week. Parrott, 35 in May, is experiencing the onset of eyesight difficulties. "I'm having problems focusing on the long runs," he admitted. "I'm alright close in."

Exuding Liverpudlian wit and affability on A Question of Sport and elsewhere, a future in the media and probably as a racehorse trainer lies ahead but there is nothing like competing and you are a long time retired. "It's a bit like my old mate Coisty," he said in reference to his quiz programme sparring partner, Ally McCoist. "He still likes being in the dressing- room at Kilmarnock and I'd miss the camaraderie on the circuit."

He knew what to expect from Chris Small, the tall, meticulous Scot whom he beat 13-12 on Friday night. "If you've got a ticket, change it for another match," he said. Slow as the Thorburnesque Small was ("I can't play faster. There's no point in trying") it was engrossing.

A win for Small would have put him in the top 16 for the first time and he looked capable of it at 10-9, 54-0. "The 20th frame was massive," said Parrott, reflecting on a 74 for 10-10. He went two up but an hour later Small completed a 131 clearance to level at 12-12. "He's a human limpet. He just won't let go," said Parrott after taking the decider with a cool 68.

Matthew Stevens, the 21-year-old Welshman and quarter- finalist last year, has the flare, fluency and power of a potential champion but had his 6-2 overnight lead over Tony Drago reduced to 9-7 at lunch. In spite of three wins over Stephen Hendry, Drago has had a poor season. Of all the top players, there is the greatest difference between his best and his worst but two dashing centuries, 108 and 137, gave him two of the morning's first three frames.

Stevens laid a snooker on the last red to create the opening for 9-6 and, in play with 62, was heading for 10-6 but missed a straight blue. Malta's No 1 then made a stirring 63 clearance for the black-ball win to limit his arrears to two frames going into last evening's final session.

Nigel Bond, runner-up four years ago, had not reached a world ranking quarter-final in eight attempts this season or made a century break. Tight and competitive, however, he led Ken Doherty, the 1997 champion, 10-6 after two sessions but at 11-9 was still two frames short of a quarter- final place.

Bond led 50-0 in the opening frame only to lose it on the black and missed a routine green to lose the third on a tie-break black. At 10-9, though, Bond potted the brown from distance, added blue to a distant baulk pocket and with the pink earned a two-frame breathing space.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk