John Higgins felt surreal and numb before great finish to opening Crucible win

April 20, 2022
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Phil Haigh ✍️  

Betfred World Snooker Championship - Day Five
John Higgins is into the second round in Sheffield, but not after a scare (Picture: Getty Images)

John Higgins went through the Crucible mill during his World Snooker Championship first round win over Thephaiya Un-Nooh, enduring a surreal and numb moment, to emerge with a 10-7 victory.

It was a cracking game between the Scot and the Thai, with the four-time world champion eventually getting over the line by winning five of the last six frames.

Really he should have won all six of those frames but for a moment of madness when he just needed the black off the final red to leave Thepchaiya needing snookers.

For a man of his decision-making ability, it was a bizarre thing to see Higgins go in-off and allow the Thai to clear up and close the gap to 8-7 behind.

After losing five finals this season, Higgins has suffered some painful defeats and he admitted that moment had him worried, but he was thrilled to regroup and get himself into the second round.

‘Very relieved,’ he told WST. ‘I felt the pressure a little bit towards the end there, as I do every year coming here in the first round.

Betfred World Snooker Championship - Day Four
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh had Higgins on the ropes but made some mistakes on the home stretch (Picture: Getty Images)

‘I was 8-6 in front and screwed the black in-off when all I needed was the black for him to need snookers.

‘It was a surreal feeling in my body, when he cleared up I was thinking, “What’s just happened?” But pleased, really pleased to still be here.

‘I was lucky I think at the end. It’s tough out there.’

Adding on Eurosport: ‘Near the end there it started to get pretty tough. When I’d seen it go towards the middle bag and it went in, I felt numb. Then Thepchaiya done a good clearance. When it went 8-7, I was thinking, “Oh, this could be tough.” I feel great now.’

The fluent, speedy Thai star had Higgins in trouble at 6-5 ahead and the Wizard of Wishaw admits that Thepchaiya is wonderful to watch, even if he is knocking in big breaks against you.

‘It’s good because against some other players it maybe takes a little bit longer,’ said Higgins. ‘You actual revel at some of the little shot that he plays. His cue ball around the pink and the black, he makes it look effortless.

‘He’s different class to watch, but sometimes you need him to miss a couple when the pressure comes on at the end. Which I was grateful for.’

There had been concern for Higgins fan after his hurtful loss to Neil Robertson in the Tour Championship final earlier this month, tossing away a 9-4 lead to lose 10-9.

He was hurt at the time, but the veteran has learned to brush defeats off and says he is bearing no scars in Sheffield.

‘I don’t really worry about that loss to Neil, obviously it was disappointing, but the following day I was up the road, couple of days off and I was back practicing,’ he said.

‘As I say, there’s worse things happen in life. Just got on with it, got a massive tournament coming up so no pointe wallowing in self pity. Get back on the horse again.’

Higgins will take on either Belgium’s Luca Brecel or Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham in the last 16.

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