Snooker 'legend' Higgins into world final after last-frame thriller

London (AFP) –


Snooker star John Higgins came from behind to win a last-frame decider and book his place in this year's World Championship final with a 17-16 victory over David Gilbert on Saturday.

Four-time world champion Higgins, 10-6 behind at one stage in this semi-final, made it 16-16 with a total clearance break of 139 at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre.

And the 43-year-old Scot then seized his chance when Gilbert missed a black in the deciding frame to complete victory with a break of 55.

This win was in marked contrast to Higgins' second-round defeat at the UK Championships late last year that left him contemplating retirement.

"I was at a low ebb around Christmas -- probably the lowest ebb I've ever been in playing the game," Higgins said after his tense win.

"I can't really explain to be honest. I apologised to Dave -- I told him I brought him down to my level in the first three sessions.

"I was really poor and I think Dave really let me off the hook. I was over the moon to be only 13-11 (on Friday night). I was feeling good but nothing was happening."

Gilbert extended his lead with a break of 105 in Saturday's opening frame.

But Higgins then won four in a row to lead for the first time since the fifth frame at 15-14.

Gilbert, admirably, levelled at 15-15 with a break of 78 before moving to within a frame of victory following a safety exchange.

The knowledge he'd twice blown a five-frame lead seemed to overwhelm the unheralded Englishman at his post-match press conference, with Gilbert breaking down in tears.

"I'm absolutely gutted to lose," he said. "I could have got to a world final but I've got nothing to feel sad about. I came here with no expectations and to end up on the one table against a legend like John, it was an honour."

Meanwhile Judd Trump, looking to reach his second world final after losing to Higgins in the 2011 showpiece match, moved into a 14-10 lead against qualifier Gary Wilson.

He went 12-8 up with a break of 114 -- the 87th century of the tournament surpassing the previous Crucible record set in both 2015 and 2016.

Trump, 9-7 ahead overnight, now needs just three more frames when his match against Wilson is played to a finish later Saturday.