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Page last updated at 22:54 GMT, Thursday, 15 January 2009

Higgins secures Selby semi-final

THE MASTERS
Venue: Wembley Arena, London Date: Sunday 11 - Sunday 18 January
Coverage: BBC Television, BBC Red Button and BBC Sport website

John Higgins
Former world number one Higgins was always in charge against Ding

John Higgins booked a semi-final tie against defending champion Mark Selby after staying cool to get the better of Ding Junhui with a 6-4 victory.

Higgins was never behind but China's young prospect Ding pushed him all the way in an entertaining match.

The Scot took a 3-1 lead into the mid-session interval and managed to pull clear after Ding pulled it back to 4-4.

Earlier, Selby progressed after a very closely fought 6-5 victory over Northern Ireland's Mark Allen.

The Englishman came from 4-2 and 5-4 behind to see off Allen's challenge - five of his six Masters matches have now gone down to the final frame.

"I keep playing these last-frame deciders, I guess it does show I'm good under pressure," Selby told BBC Sport.

"It was really hard to play against Mark. You can play a couple of great safety shots and soon after find yourself 70 points behind in a frame.

606: DEBATE

"But I've got nothing to lose. I have come as defending champion, but it's still only my second time here, so I'm just trying to enjoy it.

"To be still in with a chance of winning at this stage is a great feat, I think."

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Mark Selby describes his fluke in the final frame

Selby recovered from a shaky spell early on and fought back when Allen was within one frame of victory - but also got his share of luck in the deciding frame as he fluked a red while escaping from a snooker.

"I couldn't believe it happened," the 25-year-old added. "I said to Mark 'I can't believe you left me that'. There was great banter out there."

Experienced Higgins displayed his superior class and composure against Ding, no more so than when the 21-year-old levelled at 4-4.

After coming so close to taking a 5-3 lead, Higgins took control in the ninth frame with a clearance of 127 before closing out the match in the next.

In Friday's two quarter-finals, Stephen Maguire takes on Neil Robertson and Ali Carter meets Ronnie O'Sullivan.

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see also
Dogged Robertson sees off Hendry
14 Jan 09 |  Snooker
Murphy makes early Masters exit
13 Jan 09 |  Snooker
O'Sullivan wants X Factor glitz
12 Jan 09 |  Snooker
Selby ready for Masters defence
09 Jan 09 |  Snooker
Masters draw
05 Jan 09 |  Snooker
Snooker on the BBC
16 Sep 08 |  Snooker


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