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Page last updated at 20:28 GMT, Thursday, 23 April 2009 21:28 UK

Higgins and Maguire ease through

World Snooker Championship
Date: 18 April-4 May Venue: Crucible Theatre, Sheffield
Coverage: Live coverage each day on BBC Two, BBC Red Button and BBC Sport website (UK only), updates on BBC Radio 5 Live.

Stephen Maguire

Video - Ruthless Maguire blows Burnett away

Former champion John Higgins and world number two Stephen Maguire claimed relatively easy wins to make the World Snooker Championship second round.

Breaks of 131 and 80 guided Higgins past Michael Holt 10-5 to set up a clash with 23-year-old Jamie Cope.

Scot Maguire saw off Jamie Burnett 10-5 in their first tie since December's controversial match that is still being investigated for irregular betting.

Two stunning centuries helped Maguire set up his next tie against Mark King.

Higgins, the world number five from Scotland, began with a 5-4 lead and after two scrappy opening frames a 131 break gave him a healthy 8-5 advantage.


Nottingham's Holt lacked rhythm and consistency and despite a break of 49 in the 15th frame, Higgins sealed the win with an impressive 80 to secure a match with Cope, the conqueror of Joe Perry.

Higgins, who claimed the world crown in 1998 and 2007, told BBC Sport: "It was a scrappy game - the two of us were under pressure. I need to get better."

The 33-year-old from North Lanarkshire admitted Holt had been unlucky not to have been leading at the end of Wednesday's session.

John Higgins

Video - Higgins punishes Holt mistake

But on Thursday Holt looked nervous and edgy and squandered the chance of a lucrative 147 clearance in frame 15 after potting seven reds and six blacks.

After the match, he was despondent at his ongoing failure to break into the game's elite players after a decade of trying.

"It's 10 years of nothing - it's embarrassing. I'm trying so hard, probably too hard sometimes, but I've just got to hope that I can just do it," the 30-year-old commented.

"I'm not the best player in the world but I think I'm better than what I have achieved. I can win games - I'm not a bottler.".

Having wobbled during the opening exchanges when he trailed 4-2, Higgins recovered some form and lost just one frame in the final session with one century break and knocks of 68 and 80 to help him to victory.

But he acknowledged he would need to improve if he is to justify Ronnie O'Sullivan's view that either he or Higgins will win the title.

Jamie Burnett's safety shot

Video - Brilliant safety fails to save Burnett

On his opponent in the next round Higgins added: "Cope is a great young player. The sport needs players like him. It's going to be a great game and I'm really looking forward to it."

Maguire overcame the disappointment of narrowly missing out on a 147 on Wednesday to easily defeat his friend and playing partner Burnett.

The pair played their first round with the fall-out of their UK Championship match last year still hovering over them.

Maguire won that game 9-3 and although both strenuously deny any wrongdoing, World Snooker and Strathclyde Police continue to investigate irregular betting patterns.

On Thursday, all thoughts returned to the baize and Maguire started the second session in blistering form with a fabulous 127.

Burnett never stopped scrapping and although he stole the 12th on the black and edge the 14th, Maguire hit back with a 79 and secured the victory with a faultless 127.

"I'm just here to play snooker," Maguire said regarding distractions such as the police inquiries. "I don't read much of what's going on.

Stephen Maguire

Video - Maguire hits break of 122

"I'm distracted by nothing. I've been practising hard. Practice has gone well and it's paid off in the first match."

After notching three centuries in the match he added: "I played well and scored well. My long-potting was great."

Burnett described Maguire's play over the two sessions as "awesome", adding: "When you're playing one of these guys on top form it's brutal.

"They keep you off the table for long periods, and they keep knocking in big break after big break so they make it very difficult for you.

"He just never allowed me any table time, so I never was able to get any rhythm into my game."

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see also
World Championship latest scores
15 Apr 09 |  Snooker
World Championship draw
07 Apr 09 |  Snooker
Snooker on the BBC
20 Jan 09 |  Snooker

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