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Page last updated at 22:20 GMT, Saturday, 19 April 2008 23:20 UK

Higgins books spot in round two WORLD SNOOKER CHAMPIONSHIP
Sat 19 April to Mon 5 May Venue: Crucible Theatre, Sheffield
Coverage: Watch live on BBC One, BBC Two, BBCi and the BBC Sport website; listen on BBC Radio 5 Live

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Replay: Stevens comes close to 147

Defending world champion John Higgins responded well to a mini-crisis in his first-round match against Matthew Stevens to win 10-5 at the Crucible.

Higgins took a dominant 7-2 lead in the morning despite a break of 112 from Stevens in the third frame.

Stevens dragged himself back in the evening, winning three straight frames.

The Scot responded with a break of 75 to take the 13th frame before the interval, and fine century breaks in the final two frames took him through.

John Higgins
Higgins ended the match with two excellent century breaks

Higgins was always expecting a tough opening clash with Stevens, twice a runner-up in Sheffield, and trailed 2-1 early on as the Welshman came close to a 147 maximum break.

He potted 14 reds and 14 blacks in the third frame before missing a pot down the rail.

But Higgins hit back to win six frames in a row to lead 7-2 - and that proved to be the crucial passage of play in the match.

"I'm delighted to be through," said Higgins of his victory over a player never beaten in the first round at Sheffield in 10 appearances.

"From 2-1 down this morning I managed to nick a frame to get to 2-2 and after that I scored very heavily.

"Tonight I realised Matthew is one of those players that can reel off three or four frames in a row but he missed a pot with the rest and then I didn't really miss a shot in the last three frames."

Higgins will not be in action again until Thursday but is staying in Sheffield even though his wife Denise is heavily pregnant with their third child.

Matthew Stevens
Stevens has endured a poor season in tournament snooker

"She told me to stay down so she wouldn't be bossing me about," he joked.

"If I get to the final she would definitely come down here. She's not due until 26 May but that might bring her on a bit!"

A disappointed Stevens, forced to qualify this year after a poor season, said: "Tonight I came out firing and got it back to 7-5 but missed a few shots.

"I felt comfortable out there today but John just played better than me. Being 7-2 down against anyone is tough but John especially. I have given it my all and that's all I can do."

Four other first-round matches were started on Saturday.

Australian Neil Robertson earned a 7-2 lead over veteran Nigel Bond.

The left-hander managed two breaks of 70 and one of 80 to lead 5-1 before Bond, finalist here back in 1995, reduced the gap in style with a 125 total clearance.

However, Robertson then took the last two frames of the session.

Former champion Peter Ebdon battled back from 5-2 down to trail debutant Jamie Cope 5-4 after their first session.

The 2002 winner showing typical grit to take the final two frames with breaks of 87 and 103.

From the way some of these pots are going in it's a good bet that the century record will be smashed


Barry Hawkins took the opening two frames against Ali Carter without conceding a point and snatched the third 65-64.

But Carter recovered to take six frames on the bounce in a dour battle of wills to earn a 6-3 lead going into Sunday's play.

Northern Ireland's Joe Swail took five frames in a row to lead Stephen Lee 7-2.

Lee looked set to go 3-2 ahead when he conceded three fouls to gift Swail the frame.

Swail, twice a semi-finalist, took full advantage and Lee had it all to do to avoid a second successive first-round Crucible exit.

see also
World Championship draw
14 Apr 08 |  Snooker
World Championship latest
15 Apr 08 |  Snooker
Snooker on the BBC
07 Apr 08 |  Snooker
Crucible champions
14 Apr 08 |  Snooker

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