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Page last updated at 15:47 GMT, Saturday, 2 May 2009 16:47 UK
World Snooker 2009

Crucible Theatre, Sheffield
18 April-4 May 2009

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.

John Higgins

Video - Higgins holds off Allen fightback

John Higgins reached his fourth World Championship final after eventually seeing off a battling Mark Allen 17-13.

The Antrim potter had trailed 13-3 and resumed on Saturday 15-9 down, but started with 106 and then won the next two to set up a thrilling finish.

Higgins stopped the rot with 116 before Allen clawed back another but the Scot kept his nerve to edge over the line.

Higgins, the 1998 and 2007 champion, will face either 2005 champion Shaun Murphy or Neil Robertson in the final.

"I feel total relief," said Higgins afterwards. "I was just thinking I could throw this away here.

"All sorts of negative thoughts crept in, but it's only at The Crucible that you do that.

"All credit to Mark. He's great for the game - he's like a street-fighter. He gets the crowd behind him as well. As I said to him afterwards, he will come back and win it one day."


A comeback always seemed unlikely for Allen, but after trailing 13-3, he won nine of the next 11 frames in a hugely entertaining final session.

The seeds of recovery were sown during the latter stages on Friday, with Higgins playing like a man concentrating more on finishing the match early to avoid a final session.

"I was looking at the football schedule and thinking about having the day off and watching the Aberdeen-Celtic game," the Celtic fan admitted later.

Despite losing six of the eight frames available in that third session, Higgins, 15-9 up, started on Saturday afternoon still only needing to add another two to make the final.

Higgins relieved to make World final

It was crucial Northern Ireland's 23-year-old got off to a flying start and he did not disappoint with a faultless 106 to make it 15-10.

Amazingly it was the 10th century of the tournament for a player who only made his Crucible debut two years ago.

In the next frame, Allen was in again and was starting to look like the free-flowing player who knocked out reigning champion Ronnie O'Sullivan in the second round.

The wheels may have fallen off when he failed to sink an easy black, but he was then handed a lifeline with an amazing miss by the world number five on the middle pocket.

With the pressure building, even an old campaigner such as Higgins was looking edgy and a string of misses allowed his opponent to steal his fifth successive frame.

Mark Allen
Mark Allen can hold his head up high after a fantastic effort in Sheffield

With Allen sensing his mission impossible was on the cards, he squeezed through some scrappy safety exchanges to make it six in a row to trail by three at 15-12.

Allen was in again, but missed a red and the Higgins fans would have been hugely relieved to watch their man finally get some table time to knock in a 116 - his first break above 30 in seven frames.

Allen's battling was not over and he clawed it back to 16-13, but the jaded Scot - who won the previous two rounds with last-frame deciders - secured his final spot by clearing up the colours, but only after his opponent missed an easy blue.

Allen said: "I'm pleased with the way I fought back and I still fancied the job overnight when I was 15-9 down.

"It was a weird match. I was always way behind and although I came back into it I gave myself far too much to do after the first two sessions.

Allen admits early errors cost him

"I knew if I could play the way I had been playing in this tournament I had a chance to get back into it. But John is more experienced and he played excellently.

"Overall I had a couple of good wins and I went up the rankings a few places. I'm getting more and more confident in the bigger arenas."

With the final taking place on Sunday at 1400 BST, Higgins was delighted to be closing in on a third World Championship title.

"It's a great honour to get to another Crucible final," he added. "It's going to be tough to win it for the third time whoever I play."

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see also
Murphy closes in on final place
02 May 09 |  Snooker
Snooker's new aggressive breed
30 Apr 09 |  Snooker
Epic win sees Higgins into semis
29 Apr 09 |  Snooker
Murphy ousts Hendry to make semis
29 Apr 09 |  Snooker
Allen sees off Day to reach semis
29 Apr 09 |  Snooker
Crucible photos
26 Apr 09 |  Snooker
Hendry behind despite 147 break
28 Apr 09 |  Snooker
Higgins edges out Cope in classic
27 Apr 09 |  Snooker
Selby eases through to face Dott
20 Apr 09 |  Snooker
Higgins and Maguire ease through
23 Apr 09 |  Snooker
World Championship latest scores
29 Apr 09 |  Snooker
World Championship draw
25 Apr 09 |  Snooker
Snooker on the BBC
20 Jan 09 |  Snooker

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