Higgins’ Heroics and Allen’s Missed Chances

Picture Credit: George Wood | Getty Images

In his dressing room, tears of joy streamed down John Higgins’ face after what he hailed as the pinnacle clearance of his career, securing a thrilling 13-12 victory over Mark Allen in the Cazoo World Championship’s sensational second round.

Higgins, a snooker legend, has grappled with moments of despair in recent seasons, especially in converting advantageous positions. However, tonight, he summoned a performance reminiscent of his prime, etching a moment he vowed to cherish forever. Facing a daunting 62-0 deficit in the deciding frame against Allen, Higgins doubled a red into the center pocket, igniting a spectacular 71 clearance, echoing his memorable winning break against Ronnie O’Sullivan in the 2006 Masters final. As the last ball sank into the pocket, the four-time champion raised his arms triumphantly, amidst a captivated audience, marking the first Crucible match to culminate in the final black since Nigel Bond’s victory over Stephen Hendry in 2006.

Reflecting on the significance of the moment, Higgins declared it the crowning achievement of his career. He expressed profound pride in his ability to rise to the occasion under immense pressure, emphasizing the mental fortitude required to execute such a pivotal shot. The victory propels Higgins into his 18th quarter-final in Sheffield, where he is slated to face Kyren Wilson over 25 frames on Tuesday and Wednesday. For the 48-year-old Scot, the win carries added weight as it ensures the continuation of his unbroken streak of 29 years among the top 16 of the world rankings, elevating him to 15th in the provisional end-of-season list.

Meanwhile, Allen, despite maintaining his position atop the provisional list, faces a setback in his quest for the coveted world number one ranking, with contenders such as Judd Trump and Ronnie O’Sullivan poised to overtake him. Disappointed by missed opportunities earlier in the match, Allen acknowledged Higgins’ prowess and expressed confidence in Higgins’ ability to seize the championship.

As the emotion of the moment washed over him, Higgins confessed to a brief moment of tears in the solitude of his dressing room, before steeling himself for the challenges that lie ahead. Despite the elation of his victory, he remained focused on further improvement, acknowledging the absence of a century break in the tournament thus far. Allen, gracious in defeat, credited Higgins for his remarkable performance, lamenting his own missed chances and recognizing Higgins’ capability to clinch the title.

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