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Crucible Theatre, Sheffield
21 April-7 May 2007




606: DEBATE

John Higgins (Sco) 18-13
Mark Selby (Eng)

73-25 58-32 19-95 25-76 (67) 10-132 (116) 97-0 (97) 98-11 86-5 75-0 (75) 85-9 (70) 101-24 (100) 70-61 59-75 (Higgins 58) 98-0 78-55 (Higgins 53) 116-0 (106) 36-73 0-110 (109) 35-65 (65) 4-74 (62) 0-66 48-72 81-40 63-70 75-2 22-82 54-77 71-33 57-43 (57) 129-1 (129) 78-1 (78)

(The Final: Best of 35 frames)

LATEST ACTION (ALL TIMES BST)

By Ben Dirs

Frame 31: Selby misses a long red, but manages to bring the ball back to baulk. It's another Selby special, an outrageous plant into the bottom right. But he's not too clever on the black, and Higgins drains a red into the right middle. The reds are spread, but covering one another. This isn't over yet.

Higgins moves to 27 with a blue into the left centre and a handy kiss leaves a pot into the bottom right. Selby can only watch as the World Championship ebbs away from him. Higgins is putting in a real spurt here, it's like watching a great middle-distance runner shift up a gear going into the final straight.

Higgins moves 55 ahead and a pink into the right middle leaves Selby needing snookers. Higgins is struggling to suppress a smile, but the rest of the balls represent a lap of honour. Humdinger of a pink into the left centre, but he misses a blue and that's that, Higgins is the 2007 World Champion. The players embrace, that was epic, the latest finish for a final in Crucible history. Thanks for sticking with me and good luck at work tomorrow.
Higgins 18-13 Selby

Frame 30: Exhibition stuff from Selby, the butt of the cue waggling up in the air and a red vanishing into the top left. No position though, and we're knees deep in another safety tussle. Selby attempts a four-ball plant - not sure about The Jester, they should call him The Hogweed, or The Meadow Thistle - but a red rattles the jaws. Higgins scents blood.

In goes a long red and Higgins looks set for a big one. Higgins sinks a six into the left middle and the break is 66, and a red secures the frame. That's the ton, the "latest century ever scored at The Crucible", Dennis Taylor points out, and the clearance is 129. Gutsy from Higgins, but class also - just one frame needed. What has The Jester got left up his sleeve? Wait a minute, Wizards keep stuff up their sleeves...sorry, this has all been too much...
Higgins 17-13 Selby

Frame 29: No more of your messages tonight, the messageboards have closed down. That's right, the computer has seen enough and decided to go to bed. Selby was signing autographs during that short break - what a guy. Some clown in the crowd coughs as he's crouched over his cue, and Selby pulls back and gives him a goofy smile and a thumbs up. He settles back down and rams home a stupendous long red. You little beauty. No position on a colour.

Another glorious long red from The Jester and he's on the blue. But a screw into the pink doesn't spread the pack sufficiently and he's forced into a tricky thin cut, which he executes well. Selby splits the pack with a cannon off the blue and he's in A1 position. That said, he rolls a bit too far behind the pink and the wheels come off on 42. Nothing on for Higgins, though. Yes there is, he's cut a red in and can snatch it from here.

Higgins goes slightly astray after making 27, but pulls off a delicate cut red with the rigging. Just the colours now, all on their spots. Down goes the pink, it's a 57 break, and Higgins has a three-frame cushion.
Higgins 16-13 Selby

Frame 28: Selby is within one frame of Higgins for the first time since the second frame. To be fair, this has become a grueller not because the players are unable to make pots, but because of the quality of safety on either side. Cracking pot from Higgins, a lengthy red into the bottom left, and he follows up with a blue.

Higgins tries to screw into the pack off the black but slides off and finds himself on the left-hand cushion and having to play safe. His break was 28. Selby is off the mark, but is out of position after cutting in the black...he rams home the long red, but the cue ball nuzzles in behind the black. His break, of nine, is over.

A colleague has just popped in to make sure I haven't gone mad, which is tremendous of him - there are many in this place who wouldn't. Like Beryl who works on reception, and that cleaner who takes some sort of pleasure in knocking my drinks over with her tickling stick. This country...

This one's cagier than a canary, but then you probably knew that already. Higgins, though, is in the balls - could he pouch this in one visit? No. He runs out of position after making 28 and plays safe. Selby makes a hash of a safety and Higgins should be in, but misses the red with the rest.

Selby has a chance here to snatch this, but misses an attempted double on the final red. Absolutely dreamy shot from Higgins, a long red into the top left, but he's got to play safe, and it's a goodun - the yellow is hidden behind the green. Selby almost plays a perfect recovery, almost snookering Higgins, but Higgins can see it and sends it home.

The Wizard misses the green, and Selby only requires one snooker. But Higgins drains the green and brown, Barneys the blue and that's the frame in the bag. Higgins opens up daylight again.
Higgins 15-13 Selby

"It's about who's got the class, the temperament - and, at the end of the day, the bottle..."
Steve Davis on the BBC

Frame 27: Players are out for the final act - and we've got another safety tussle to start with. Higgins it is with the first sighter, and he misses a red into the bottom left. And we have a re-rack after the cue-ball gets stuck to the edge of the pack.

Selby is off the mark with a delicate red and he's got a chance to open up a sizable lead in this frame. However, he runs out of position on 24 before playing an iffy safety. Higgins pots a red and follows up with a blue. He's on target to take the frame until he cannons off the black and gets tangled up in a cluster. Selby gets the white back up to baulk and this is all very cagey.

Higgins makes a long red disappear into the bottom right before tucking Selby up behind the brown. But that's not clever from The Wizard, Selby can see a red. Higgins repeats his previous long red, but again he's not on a colour.

"I can't turn this off, it's a great match. Got a mock exam at 9am, but what the hell!"
Carlisle Rangers on the 606 messageboard

My mum always tells people that I like to exaggerate, but we could conveivably be here at 3 o'clock this morning at this rate. Some urgency, however, from Higgins, ramming home a red into the bottom left. But The Wizard's powers are on half beam this evening, and he misses a black to give Selby another go.

Great shot on the black from Selby and he finds position on the final red and then the black again. This is going to be real test of bottle - every shot will need to be a pearler. He has to dig out the rest for a long yellow and he misses...as does Higgins. This is like the 27th round of an old bare-knuckle dust-up - not much craft, it's all about who's got the bigger ticker at this stage.

Higgins has a whiff of a chance, but the yellow rattles about in the jaws and runs safe. Selby almost lays a snooker, but Higgins can wriggle between pink and blue. Higgins lays a similar snooker, but Selby also has the black to contend with. Good escape from The Jester.

The latest finish ever at The Crucible was for a second round clash between - go on, have a guess? - Cliff Thorburn and Terry Griffiths in 1983. Carriages were called at 3.51am that night. The real problem in this frame is the green, which is close to the left-hand cushion and not very pottable.

Who's going to blink first here? That's what it comes down to. Fifteen minutes on the yellow now. Selby comes up just short on the yellow and gives up four, but manages to nuzzle up to it second time round. Higgins puts plenty of distance between the balls with his next shot. This is snooker at its most strange and its most hypnotic - watching this is like having some mushroom-induced dream.

SELBY BLINKS! Higgins pots the yellow into the right middle...but cannot find position on the green. This one's been running for 48 minutes already. Anyone seen The Hustler? Paul Newman and Jackie Gleason going at it until dawn? At least there was a bit of love interest in that. Tremendous pot on the green by Selby, and he edges ahead 51-50 before laying a snooker.

Higgins misses with his first escape attempt...and again...and again...and again...and cuts the brown in! But he's snookered behind the pink and misses the attempted escape. He can only tie now. Selby, the sadistic so and so, tucks Higgins up like a kipper behind the pink, but Higgins gets out of it. But Selby sticks in the blue...astonishing stuff. Higgins trudges from the theatre - perhaps to have his heart put back together...
Higgins 14-13 Selby

"This is getting more tense by the minute. Good job I don't start work until noon tomorrow as I think we are in for a late night."
BSM on the 606 messageboard

Frame 26: Jimmy White tells Ray Stubbs that Higgins "hasn't had a drink since Malta". They must have been on a jolly boys outing together. Wonder what Higgins did to make him stop?

Higgins Barneys one into the right middle and he's got a chance to clear up. Sorry John - he misses a tough pot into the right middle. Selby makes a good pot and he's perfect on the black. Good scrambling from Selby, but he's out of position after potting the black for 32 and is forced to play safe.

That is a ruddy incredible shot by Selby, an outrageous plant that splits the pack and sends one red into the right middle. He then mulls over the next shot for a couple of minutes before sending the white back to baulk.

Higgins gets a massive slice of luck with icing and hundreds and thousands on top, one red flicking off another and finding the bottom left pocket. But he misses the brown. In comes Selby and he's off the mark. The Jester pots the black and he should have this frame on toast.

Selby finishes up on 26, and Higgins needs two snookers. Selby escapes one and tucks Higgins in behind the black - but Higgins is equal to it. I must say, Selby's still very relaxed, he's just had a little chuckle with one of his mates in the crowd. Someone wants give him a nudge and tell him to stop mucking about.

Selby's not jesting now. He turns down the chance of a pot on the final red before Higgins sticks him right in behind the black. Selby fouls, but Higgins makes a mess of his subsequent safety. Quick as a flash, Higgins is snookered, and Selby pots the final red. That's the frame, and this is turning into the sporting equivalent of Midnight's Children - extremely long and almost impossible to fathom.
Higgins 14-12 Selby

Frame 25: Another crackerjack long red from Selby to get things going, but no position. No easy frames here, every one is a grueller. Higgins pots a corker, a very fine cut into the bottom right. Bizarrely, he shakes his head afterwards - that's the best shot he's played all day.

Higgins stalls at 20, a cannon off the black into the pack yielding nothing. He follows up with a lazy safety, kissing the pink on his way back to baulk. Selby fails to punish him, under-cutting a lengthy red, but Higgins then misses a cut into the right middle. Sketchy, someone needs to take this frame by the jaffers - and The Jester does just that, making a long red disappear into the bottom left. However, Selby goes in off the black.

Selby misses another long red and Higgins pounces. That's frame ball, a straight-forward red into the bottom left. Relief for Higgins, disappointment for Selby - the Leicester man had chances.
Higgins 14-11 Selby

Frame 24: Higgins opens up with a superb long red, but he's not on the black and is forced to play safe. Higgins rattles the jaws with another long red and Selby's in the balls. However, Selby leaves himself a tough cut on a red and misses. The break was 16.

Selby was missing nothing this afternoon, but that's another long red gone begging this evening. Another missed red and Higgins takes advantage - but can he fill his boots? Some naughty sausage is rustling a sweet wrapper. Referee Eirian Williams is apoplectic - that's The Crucible equivalent of dropping your strides and streaking at Lord's.

Higgins ploughs on, looking more relaxed now. However, Higgins loses position after making 43 and is forced to play safe. Selby pulls off a fine long red, but has to tuck Higgins up behind the brown. Higgins escapes - but Selby has a red into the left centre...which he fluffs.

Higgins has a chance to clinch the frame, but chokes on an easy blue. Higgins then fouls when not even snookered - and repeats the shot. The Jester then brings Higgins out in a broad smile - haven't seen that too often today. Selby wags his finger at Higgins and reminds him that if he misses again, that's frame over. Cheeky monkey, but I like it. Higgins does make contact with his third go.

Selby has a go at a tight red into the left middle but misses - nothing on for Higgins, though. Selby then attempts a swerve past the yellow, but doesn't give it enough side and misses. Bit of a conflab about the repositioning, and it looks like it was a slightly more difficult shot second time around - and he misses by more. A third miss, and the frame is ebbing away. He does hit the red fourth time around.

Great long red from Selby and he's alive in this frame. Down goes the black and he's on the last red. Selby plays a phenomenal shot on the yellow, applying some serious side in order to gain position on the green. Another great shot on the brown...and that's Selby's frame! A dagger through Higgins' heart, this is turning into a ruddy classic. You're all gonna be cream-crackered at work tomorrow!
Higgins 13-11 Selby

Frame 23: Higgins breaks and we're off. A bit of safety action to start the session - we could be in for a long old night. Higgins gets a sighter, but it's a fairly half-hearted attempt at a difficult long red and the cue ball goes safe. Apologies, I didn't see the red into the left centre - but Selby did, and he's on the brown.

Fabulous long-range red from Selby and he's safely on the black. The Jester screws into the pack off the blue, but it doesn't spread as he might have liked - although he does have a chance into the left middle. However, he turns it down and plays safe after a break of 25.

Selby attempts an outrageous pot into the bottom right and a red ends up over the top left pocket. Higgins has a chance to make hay for once. A tight pink into the right middle takes him into the lead by one and Higgins should mop up from here. Another pink squeaks into the right middle and Higgins looks like he's got his potting boots on this evening.

The penultimate red drags its feet...but drops. Higgins pots frame-ball green...and goes in off into the right middle! Absolute choker - Selby has a free ball and pots the brown, but then loses position and tucks Higgins in behind the black. Tense.

Higgins clearly isn't right in the head as he comes up about a foot short with his attempted escape, and misses for a second time. Third time lucky, but Selby nudges the ball up to the baulk end. Selby has a chance - a very testing pot into the top left. The Jester misses, and the red goes into the right middle.

Higgins pots the final red and adds the yellow. Yellow and green needed. First frame of the day for Higgins, that will settle the old guts slightly.
Higgins 13-10 Selby

2009: The players are introduced - much consternation in our office, Selby is introduced as "Marvellous Mark Selby"! I've been calling him the Jester from Leicester all match. Surely you can't change nickname mid-match? Is that in the rules?

2004: We're almost ready for the final act of the 2007 World Championship - Jimmy White has just done a little piece in the build-up, with creepy music and everything. I'm quite punped up for this. Well, as pumped up as you can get for a snooker match. Can The Jester continue his resurgence? Can Higgins pull himself together? Will there still be cabs running when the game finishes? Let's have it!

Frame 22: Higgins refuses a long red - that might tell you something about his state of mind. Selby leaves one over the centre right and Higgins finds position on the black. However, he misses a straight-forward red by some distance. Selby's in the balls.

The Jester leaves himself a long red with the rest, but rams it home to move to 15. Another cheeky plant from Selby and he finds position on the yellow up at the baulk end. A poor positional shot on the yellow, but he makes the red disappear into the bottom right - slide rule stuff. Yet another plant to move to 42, and Selby is motoring.

Denise Higgins is still laughing it up in the player's lounge - does she understand what's happening? YOUR HUSBAND IS GETTING HIS SPIRIT CRUSHED WOMAN! Selby gets a nasty kick on the pink and he's out of position. Selby nudges up to the cluster. He has a go at a double next up, misses, but the cue ball runs safe.

Higgins nearly gets a lucky kiss into the bottom left, and Selby's got a very tricky sighter...which he cuts home. However, he's not really on a colour, although the blue looks to go into the top left. He elects to nudge the brown onto the left-hand cushion.

Higgins having no luck here, missing a long red, the ball cannoning onto another red and rattling around in the jaws. Selby has another chance, but misses the plant. However, both reds fall safe. Higgins is going through the mill here, going in off a red. Selby, remarkably, misses a long red and Higgins is in.

The Wizard pots the first red into the right centre and he can nick this - what would that do for his morale? Higgins errs again, applying too much screw potting the black, but he recovers and soldiers on. The Scot runs out of position on the brown and is forced to play safe - and it's a good one, plenty of distance between object and cue ball.

Selby misjudges, but Higgins misses the brown. However, it runs safe. Selby then hits a red miles thin and flukes a snooker behind the black. Higgins escapes and Selby is snookered behind the blue. But Selby pulls off a breath-taking pot on the blue, before putting the pink safe.

Higgins needing a snooker. This is nerve-jangling. Higgins sticks Selby behind the black, but The Jester swerves and makes contact. Higgins blinks first again, putting the pink over the top right, and Selby rams it home. Did someone mention Lazarus? That's the session over, we'll be back at 2000 BST.
Higgins 12-10 Selby

Frame 21: The players are back out and it's Higgins to break. Selby gets a sighter, and he slams a long red into the bottom right. He plays safe on the green, bringing the cue ball back onto the top cushion. Cue a lengthy safety exchange.

"Selby's cueing well, potting well, he looks good around the table and looks to be in a good mood. You can't really ask for a better situation for a comeback."
Monkey Boy on the 606 messageboard

Higgins rattles the jaws with a long red and Selby takes advantage, digging out the rest and potting a red into the top right. Selby's missing nothing, caressing a blue into the bottom right. A hint of a smile dances across his face - he's enjoying this. He runs out of position on 19 and sticks the cue ball on the top cushion.

Great safety from Higgins, the white ball nestling in behind the brown. Selby plays a fine escape, and Higgins sends the white back to baulk. But Higgins blinks first, going in off a red. Selby rams home another long red - once again it didn't touch the side. Selby's free and easy at the moment, free and easy.

Higgins looking grim in his chair now - he hasn't potted a ball for an hour. His eyes are closed and his head cocked slightly, like somone desperately trying to get some kip on the Central Line. Selby keeps on making balls disappear - he breaks down on 42, but that's enough to win another frame. Higgins leaves the arena, Selby crosses his legs in his chair and flashes one of his crooked smiles.
Higgins 12-9 Selby

"I think John Higgins has got a touch of the 'Crucibles'. It seems that Selby has saved his best performance for the last day of the championship. What I want to know is, does Higgins have anything left in the tank?"
Saj Chowdhury, BBC Sport in Sheffield

"If Selby can get to double figures at the interval, he's in with a real chance. Could be a late night." Cold War Kid on the 606 messageboard

"Selby's found his game again and he'll have that belief. Saying that, John's still favourite..."
Six-time runner-up Jimmy White

MID-SESSION INTERVAL

Frame 20: Good long pot from Selby into the bottom right and The Jester is under way. He makes a fine cut on the black to move to 24. The BBC have just had Clive Everton on a hot-line from his hospital bed - he's sounding chipper despite his bust hip.

Another fine shot from Selby, potting the black and splitting the pack. He's on for a 147...but has to settle for a blue to move to 54. However, The Jester breaks down on 62, missing a red into the right centre. Higgins can still take the frame, 83 remaining.

Magnificent shot from Selby, a long red into the bottom right. Both Taylor and Thorne on the box reckon that's the shot of the championship - perfect position on the black. Selby snookers himself a couple of shots later, but he's 73 in front.

Selby has another little joke with the crowd, Higgins looks at his feet and bites his nails. Selby fails to escape, but he gets another go and slams home a red into the bottom right and it disappears like a rat up a drainpipe. It's the mid-session interval and Higgins storms from the theatre like a naughty schoolboy who's just been given a week of detentions. This is getting interesting...
Higgins 12-8 Selby

Frame 19: Higgins takes a 'comfort break' and no doubt gives himself a Raging Bull type talking to in front of his dressing room mirror. Selby, looking like he's sat in his living room drinking tea and tucking into a pack of Boasters, has a bit of a giggle with the crowd.

It's 183 unanswered points now from Selby, but he misses a difficult long red and Higgins cuts one in - relief for the Wizard, his first pot in 39 minutes. However, he breaks down after potting the brown.

Higgins is back in, but manages a run of just one. His wife Denise is enjoying herself - just seen her backstage waving to the camera as if her husband's in the kitchen making some toast rather than in the other room playing in a World Championship final. She's got a touch of Ginger Spice about her.

Higgins finds some fluency, rattling up a 25 break, but he breaks down again. No pot on for Selby, who has to play safe. Higgins is nowhere near the long red, but gets another go, pots it and lays the snooker behind the brown. Selby misses with his first escape attempt, but just flicks a red with his second.

Higgins misses a straight red, a sure sign his cueing arm is edgy, before Selby rattles in a difficult red into the bottom left. Both white and red were bouncing all over the place, but it didn't even touch the sides.

Selby in the driver's seat. He comes straight on the black after making 42 but applies deep screw to find position on the final red. Selby makes the green disappear and it's another frame to The Jester. He's not making Higgins laugh though. The Scot looks like he's sat in a hospital waiting room anticipating a vasectomy.
Higgins 12-7 Selby

"It is intriguing. Selby is obviously a lot more relaxed, knowing that staying in the final as long as he can is a bonus. We'll just see how big a bonus he can get out of the final day's play."
Saj Chowdhury, BBC Sport in Sheffield

"Higgins looks slightly shaken. The Scot needs to win at least one of the next two frames in this mini-session to get a bit of confidence going. If he loses 4-0, then who knows what might happen."
BSM on the 606 messageboard

Frame 18: Selby is off the mark with a fluke, a red flicking off the edge of the pack and falling into the right centre pocket. Like the nice chap he seems to be, he holds up his hand...and lays a snooker behind the black.

Magnificent safety from Selby gets a ripple from the crowd (a ripple of applause, not the chocolate bar), hitting the red firmly up to the baulk end and back into the pack. Battle of wits this one.

Selby shows some serious cojones, feathering a red into the bottom right, and follows up with a difficult black. This should be another one for Selby...shot of the day so far, a crackerjack plant into the left centre. Loves a plant, does The Jester, that's the pool coming out in him.

That's frame ball, a pink into the bottom left...and that's a 109 clearance from Selby. The Jester has shed his bells, this is deadly serious.
Higgins 12-6 Selby

"Every first frame of a session can be important because it can set a trend..."
Steve Davis on the BBC

Frame 17: It's Higgins into the balls first and he looks well-set for a sizable break. However, Higgins, attempting to spread the pack, forgets about the pot and breaks down on 36.

Selby has a chance, and he needs to grasp it with both hands. Pearling red to move to 14, cannoning onto another red to ensure position on the black. However, Selby misses a fine cut into the right centre pocket and the run ends on 29.

Higgins shows signs of nerves, missing the jaws completely with a long red, and Selby is back in. Selby, though, gets an unwanted kiss on the brown after a pot on the blue and the score is 36-35. Higgins lays a poor snooker, but The Jester misses a slow-roller into the bottom right.

An edgy-looking Higgins is unable to take advantage, missing a relatively straight-forward red into the right centre before missing a red down the cushion and following in with the white. Selby should win it from here. Indeed, he clears up to the colours and Higgins concedes the frame. Let the comeback commence!
Higgins 12-5 Selby

1510: The players are introduced and The Jester from Leicester makes a quip to Higgins before battles commences. Not sure what it was he said, but the folk in the front row were almost bent double with mirth. Go on the Jester!

"In order for Selby to come back now, it'd take a breakdown from Higgins the like of which has only been seen from the England cricket team."
IMB on the 606 messageboard

"I've been in this situation twice. In 1993, I got hammered 18-5 after being 13-3 down after the first day. In 1984, I was 12-4 down to Steve Davis and I changed the tip and got to 13-11, so it can be done. And of course, Stephen Hendry did it to me in 1992 after I was 14-8 up. Selby needs to win 7-1 to have any squeak."
Former six-time runner-up Jimmy White on BBC

1505: News reaches me that BBC commentator Clive Everton has had a fall in the night and broken his hip. Alas, this means he'll miss his 509th consecutive day at The Crucible. He's having an op tomorrow - get well Clive!

1455: Hello everyone. It's me to take you through to tonight's (or will it be this evening's?) conclusion. Selby has got to do something super-human to turn this around - he should be on his knees, deep in the bowels of The Crucible, summoning the deeds of Muhammad Ali v George Foreman, Nick Faldo v Greg Norman, Jimmy Connors v Michael Pernfors and Phill Nixon v Martin Adams.

SUNDAY'S FRAMEWATCH

By Sam Lyon

Frame 16: You just cannot argue with Higgins' class at the moment and he ensures Selby will have to create history on Monday by taking the final frame. Typically he does it with style, smashing in a consumate 106 break to complete the utter demolition of Selby's game in this session. That's nine frames from a possible 10 from 3-2 down and all Selby can do now is hope for a miracle - no player has ever come back from an overnight deficit of 12-4 in the Championship's history. Ben Dirs will be talking you through the climax on Monday so be sure to join him at 1500 BST for the restart. Until then, take smilingsnookerfan's lead and hit the bottle. Especially if you're Mark Selby.
Higgins 12-4 Selby

"He's not getting any luck out there at all. The brown he potted deserved to win any frame and for that to go against him is going to be a tough one to recover from."
BBC Sport's John Parrott

Frame 15: Higgins snatches another one and that's got to hurt Selby. In fact, you wonder if this will prove to be the frame that effectively ended the 23-year-old's 2007 World Championship dream.

Having gone wrong on an early safety, Selby gifts Higgins a chance to once again build a big lead and, as the BBC's Clive Everton says: "John Higgins - nice bloke, ruthless match player". Indeed Clive...

A fine break of 54 ends when he runs out of position off the blue, but once again Selby's long-potting abandons him when he needs it most and Higgins tucks him up behind the brown, with three of the remaining six reds on a cushion, to ensure he remains firm favourite for the frame.

However, not for the first time in this Championship, Selby digs deep, forces the error from Higgins and makes a decent 30 before forcing a fine snooker, from which Higgins fails to escape. It brings him to within 28 points with 35 on the table but the turning point comes when a stunning pot on the brown, that brings him to within 13 points, rolls tight onto the blue, making the pot impossible.

The pair play around the three remaining balls but it is Higgins that forces the errors, twice prompting Selby to miss the blue, to leave the Leicester man needing snookers and he has no choice but to concede. Higgins' lead is now seven frames and Selby, who increasingly looks a dead man walking, is staring down the barrell.
Higgins 11-4 Selby

"Higgins looks very much in the zone at the moment and you have to wonder what the chances are of him letting Selby off the hook."
BBC Sport's Steve Davis

"I hope Higgins doesn't win with a session to spare - Selby deserves better than that."
blackbart1uk on 606

Frame 14: Selby's renaissance lasts all of one frame and Higgins regains his six-frame lead with a couple of fine breaks.

A run of 39 is ended by a tricky cut to right middle, but he takes his lead to 58 points following a stunning red to the same pocket from tight on the cushion. The pot is so good, it brings an "ooohhh" from BBC Sport commentator Clive Everton - at least I presume it was the pot that prompted the reaction - and he returns to the table for a third time off a poor Selby safety to wrap things up with a break of 40.
Higgins 10-4 Selby

"It's not over yet, not by a long way."
illustriousmonkeyboy on 606

Frame 13: Whatever Selby did/drank/ate during the interval has just about done the trick and the Leicester Jester registers his first frame of the second session.

An early effort at a long red goes awry, but Higgins fails to punish him with an uncharacteristicly wayward effort from distance. Selby, clearly of the mind that attack is the best form of defence, goes for two more ambitious pots without success and Higgins responds with a break of 59 to take control of the frame.

However, a missed red to the middle hands Selby a chance and he quickly picks off the easier loose reds on his way to a 38 break. And a miss on the tough last red does not cost him dear as he responds with a fabulous snooker behind black to bring him 12 penalty points and an opening. There's no faulting the young man's character and it's an opening he snatches with a 25-point break to end a seven-frame losing streak and reduce his deficit to five.
Higgins 9-4 Selby

"Every mistake that Mark has made has been jumped upon by John. Higgins is looking so strong and I think if Selby is any more than 10-6 down by the end of play he's in big big trouble."
BBC Sport's Jimmy White

"I said there would be a session where Higgins might blow Selby away - I think it's this one."
BBC Sport's Saj Chowdhury

"Selby will have his spell on Monday, but I can't see Higgins taking his foot off the accelerator."
MoodyRed66 on 606

Frame 12: Clearly smilingsnookerfan (see below) has been on the laughing juice all day, but he or she might just have even more reason to sink a few drinks later tonight because the Wizard is casting a spell over Selby at the moment.

Following a topsy-turvy opening to the frame, Selby builds a break of 40 before he is forced to send the white back to baulk after running out of position. Nothing goes his way, though, as Higgins flukes a red along the cushion into the opposite corner and goes on to build a break of 47 to snatch the frame from under Selby's nose and that is a real body blow for the Leicester man. Nine on the trot for the Scot (whose form is hot, while Selby's is not - ey thank yoaw) and Selby has some huge rebuilding work to do during the mid-session interval.
Higgins 9-3 Selby

"COME ON HIGGINS!! Although Selby is a great player, I'm a Higgins fan and would love to see him win it again! I am sending him my positive vibes!! wooo!"
smilingsnookerfan on 606

Frame 11: Deary deary me, the last thing Selby needed with Higgins looking back in excellent form was a kick mid-break - and the Jester suffers one of the biggest the Crucible theatre might ever have seen as, in potting the blue, the white jumps a good half-inch off the table to leave him short of position. At that point he was on a break of 24, having split the pack beautifully, but - out of sheer frustration - he attempts an impossible red as a result and hands the initiative to Higgins.

Unsurprisingly, Higgins shows no remorse - bringing up a century break to make it six frames on the trot for the Wizard. Selby looks despondent in his chair and you can't blame him. Even at this early stage, his deficit looks huge.
Higgins 8-3 Selby

Frame 10: A quick warning to Mark Selby fans - your man has not nearly found his feet yet. After just one shot last frame, he gets just one in this - a terrible break-off shot - before handing Higgins a golden opportunity again. He pots the red to the right middle easily and then splits the pack magnificently off the resultant blue and it's looking ominous. It's all very fluent, very lucid - and a superb pot to left middle from the cushion shows how well he is cueing.

However, much to Higgins' own bemusement, he misses a simple frame-ball red to the right corner to end a break of 70 to prove he has not returned from the break completely infallible, and when he hits the far jaw with a subsequent opportunity on a red it lets Selby in with 75 still on the table.

He can't take the chance, though, running out of position trying to screw back for the black and Higgins pounces to wrap up his fifth straight frame with a 15 break.
Higgins 7-3 Selby

Frame Nine: A poor opening shot from Selby hands Higgins the table early on, and a fine red down the cushion with the rest kicks off a splendid break. The Scot avoids going into the bunch early, picking off the few loose reds, but splits the pack magnificently soon enough. He leaves himself a tough shot when he runs too far on a red by the top cushion, but a wonderful cut into the corner sets him up nicely to make a 75 break and he looks a completely different player to the first session.
Higgins 6-3 Selby

After a scrappy opening session, the hope is that the players will have shaken off their nerves - and the after-effects of their titanic semi-finals - and are able to produce the form that everyone knows they are capable of.

You wonder what the pair might have done in the 90 minutes or so since the end of the last session - taken on buckets of caffeine? Got their heads down for 40 winks? Time on the practice table? Or have they hit the bars of Sheffield town centre for a bit of Dutch courage? Alright, the latter's unlikely but it's worked for me in the past I tell you.

Whatever they have done, the time has come for them to step up as MC Richard Bear introduces the players to a rapturous reception.

FIRST SESSION

By Sam Lyon

"At 3-2 down, John looked tired and jaded, but he pulled it up from the boots to go 5-3 and he will very relieved."
BBC Sport's John Parrott

Frame Eight: One of the shots of the match gets Higgins up and running again, as he sinks a straight long red into the far corner from just off the side cushion, but a tough run into the pack leaves him pot-less after a run of 32. At this stage the players are level at 111 balls potted each. Neither appears tempted to 'Nelson' it as they do in cricket.

Selby gets an opening but, striving for position with left-hand side off a red with the rest, he rattles the ball in and out of the pocket and it is Higgins, all of a sudden, who looks the better conditioned after the semi-final marathons.

The Scot combines resilience with some fine break-building to knock in a 44 run and ensure he will go into Sunday night's second session with a two-frame lead. See you all at 2000 BST!
Higgins 5-3 Selby

Frame Seven: Well, the general feeling at the interval was that the quality could only improve - and how that has been proved. Mistakes are still being made but, for the first time, the intensity from both players is there and it really feels like a final now.

Higgins gets in the balls early but is unfortunate when he runs out of position off a difficult black having put 39 on the board. However, despite a fine long red from Selby, he gets another opportunity soon after and he moves to a 65-point lead with just 59 on the table before another misjudged red gifts Selby a possible lifeline. The Leicester man battles valiantly but he can only delay the inevitable as a long Higgins red seals the frame.
Higgins 4-3 Selby

Frame Six: It's a case of 'anything you can do' from Higgins, who takes advantage of a poor early Selby safety to knock in a great 97 break to draw himself level. After a shaky start from both players, they are now really turning it on at The Crucible.
Higgins 3-3 Selby

"!Come on Selby!"
*Old-Faithful* on 606

Frame Five: Mark Selby gives away 10 easy points with a couple of misses with the entire pack to aim at from the break, but then recovers to pot red-black red-black before running out of position trying to split the pack.

With the reds spread all over the table, both players do well to continually keep the white safe with a succession of safety shots, before Higgins cracks - inadvertantly knocking a red up the table and leaving Selby on with a great chance at a high break. It's a chance he takes with both hands, showing superb cue control to pick off all the remaining loose reds before developing the last off the blue on his way to a magnificent 116 clearance. That's his 11th century of the tournament and it's three on the spin for the Jester.
Higgins 2-3 Selby

"Both players endured hard semi-finals and I suppose putting those behind them was always going to take time. But I'm sure the quality will improve from here on it."
BBC Sport's John Virgo

"Yeah pretty scrappy - I hope we're not going down the Dott/Ebdon route here - that was quite punishing viewing."
smartrexyboy on 606

"John will be disappointed not to be further ahead - he certainly had the opportunities. But fair play to Mark - he's once again showing everybody just how deep his reserves go."
BBC Sport's John Parrott

Frame Four: Selby hands Higgins first use of the table after failing to successfully negotiate an early snooker from the break-off. But the Scot, in keeping with the rest of the match so far, gets in and then out as he rattles black in the jaws from beneath the pack.

And then, joy of joys, believe or not...we have a break worthy of the name! Hallelujah cry one and all - thank gawd for Mr Mark Selby! The Jester calls order in the court, settles in with a cracking red up the side cushion into the top corner, and looks back to the kind of form he showed against Shaun Murphy in the semi as he knocks up a 67 break to level the scores at the mid-session interval.

Higgins barely suppresses a yawn on his way out of the arena. Someone sort that man out an espresso.
Higgins 2-2 Selby

"Good to see Selby winning his first frame. A lot of errors from both. I didn't expect that many from Higgins."
BBC Sport's Saj Chowdhury

"Mark will be terribly relieved. Neither player has settled, but I don't think either will care that there are no big breaks, they just want frames on the board. I'm sure they are saving the fireworks for later sessions."
BBC Sport's Jimmy White

Frame Three: There's no denying it, both of these players are shattered. Both endured long, mentally draining matches in their semi-finals and, as pots continue to go awry, both are seen rubbing their eyes, and shaking themselves awake from their seat. I don't know, no staying power some people. Check me out for example - in from work last night at 1am, stayed up til 6am watching Floyd Mayweather v Oscar de la Hoya, and then back into work early afternoon. I could teach these young whipper snappers a thing or two about endurance, I tell thee.

Anyway, Selby fails to make the most of an outrageous fluke on a red to the top-left corner as a miss on the pink ends a run of 29. He's fortunate not to leave anything on, and is even more fortunate when Higgins gets back among the balls only to miss a red to the corner after it glances off an adjacent red.

It leaves him with the chance to settle with a big break but he can only make 29 before missing a tough red to the middle. Higgins, unbelievably, misses a simple cut to pot the red, though, and Selby gets on the board with a run of 38 to seal the frame.
Higgins 2-1 Selby

"Auf Wiedersehen Pet star and snooker fan Tim Healy is in the audience - no sign of the rest of the brickies."
BBC Sport's Saj Chowdhury

Frame Two: I think it is fairly safe to say that neither player has settled at all right now. Selby gets down first and builds a break of 18 before he misses the black attempting to run into the pack. However, Higgins gets yet another kick despite only catching a red to right middle half-ball and Selby gets back to the table.

But he is unfortunate when his second attempt to split the pack misses completely, and that might still have been on his mind next shot as he leaves a red over right middle following a poor safety attempt.

And so the misses continue - Higgins makes just seven before he runs out of position, and Selby then rattles a long red between the jaws and out. Higgins finally looks to have settled on his way to a 31 break but then, inexplicably, screws back instead of running through the black and it forces end of break.

It looks to have proved costly after Selby doubles the last red off the side cushion and into the corner to move to within five points of his opponent, but a missed yellow to the middle lets Higgins back in and he wraps up the second frame. Deep breath everyone.

As Williams re-racks, the BBC shows a quite spectacular montage of snooker balls bouncing. Like, bouncing on shots and things. Leaving the table and ricocheting off other balls and what not. No doubt you'll have no trouble explaining to your mother why that's interesting.
Higgins 2-0 Selby

"Neither player wanted to lose that opening frame and it was quite cagey, but Higgins might be the first to settle with that under his belt."
BBC Sport's John Parrott

"I would say John Higgins is the favourite, but nothing is as ever as clear-cut once matches get underway and there is a long, long way to go."
BBC Sport's Steve Davis

Frame One: I'm telling you, if the first frame is any indication of what is to come, it is going to be tense, tight and cagey. And we'll be here until Thursday. Still, it's an absorbing opener and Higgins snatches it after nearly 40 minutes.

The 1998 champion is first among the balls, knocking a fabulous long red to the corner to get his final underway and, with the aid of a fine thin cut on a red to the left corner, builds a break of 37. His wayward attempt to split the pack ends the break, but Selby catches an attempted safety off a red too thick to let Higgins back in.

It's not a chance he can take, though, as he fails to get on a colour from a simple pot to the right corner and is forced to send the white back to baulk. A splendid cut red from distance gives him another chance but, strangely, he opts to tuck Selby behind the brown rather than take on a very gettable black. It brings him 12 points in snookers - and a lead of 58 - but Selby forces his way back into it with a fine red and then a snooker behind the black.

Higgins' hit and hope goes terribly awry and referee Eirian Williams, who apparently has his own personal website, spends nearly four minutes replacing the half a dozen balls and Selby gets in to reduce his deficit to 34 points before missing a yellow off the rest.

It's back to a tactical exchange after that and Selby is the first to crack, leaving frame-ball red over the corner and Higgins gets down and knocks in a run of 14 to seal the frame.
Higgins 1-0 Selby


Jimmy White, shirt unbuttoned virtually all the way down to his belly (come on man, this is the world final!), tells BBC Sport: "Higgins is on fire, but Selby has proved he will not be overawed on this stage."

"The final between John Higgins and Mark Selby promises to be a cracker...Who will win? Your guess is as good as mine."
BBC Sport's John Virgo

"The other day on here I tipped Murphy to beat Selby easily. After watching Selby get through, he has changed my mind and I now think he can win this."
pquinn1989 on 606

"Selby will do himself proud, but I predict Higgins will win 18-13 or thereabouts, just because of his greater experience."
50scarrow on 606

"Mark produced some fine snooker throughout the championship n deserves to be in the final and win it!"
soniabegum on 606

"Good luck to both players but I think with his previous two final appearances already behind him, The Wizard of Wishaw might just blow away the young Leicester fox ! Fingers crossed for another great final."
bsm1967 on 606


Pre-match: Well, here we are folks. From 32 down to two, eternal snooker glory awaits the winner of the World title here in Sheffield at the grand home of The Crucible.

In one corner we have John Higgins, winner in 1998 but appearing in his first final since 2001, and in the other Mark Selby - bidding to become only the third qualifier to walk away with the trophy.

BBC Sport's Saj Chowdhury says: "I reckon it will be a great contest and although John Higgins will be favourite to beat Mark Selby, I think the contest will be tighter than many expect it to be."

As a nice little caveat, the pair have only met twice before - Higgins despatching Selby 10-5 in the first round here in 2005, before Selby returned the favour at The Crucible 10-4 the following year.

Let us know your thoughts on the 606 website.

SEE ALSO
Higgins dominates Selby in final
06 May 07 |  Snooker
John Virgo column
06 May 07 |  Snooker
Selby pips Murphy to reach final
05 May 07 |  Snooker
Murphy v Selby: Framewatch
05 May 07 |  Snooker
Higgins v Maguire: Framewatch
03 May 07 |  Snooker


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