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Page last updated at 22:09 GMT, Saturday, 12 December 2009

John Higgins edges Ronnie O'Sullivan to make UK final

Pukka Pies UK Snooker Championship
Venue: Telford International Centre Dates: Sat 5 Dec to Sun 13 Dec Coverage: Live on BBC Two, BBC Red Button and BBC Sport website.

John Higgins

Video - Higgins reaches UK final (UK users only)

By Mark Ashenden

John Higgins survived a thrilling fightback from Ronnie O'Sullivan to win 9-8 and set up Sunday's UK Championship final clash with China's Ding Junhui.

Higgins edged the first two before a 116 from O'Sullivan, but the world champion soon led 5-1 after a fine 127.

The 'Rocket' trailed 6-2 after hitting another century, only to see Higgins win the night's first two with a 109.

O'Sullivan won six in a row, including a 134, to set up the gripping finale with Higgins grinding out the victory.

A very relieved Higgins told BBC Sport: "There is nothing more frightening than Ronnie coming back at you when he's in full flow.

"I was just sitting there and thinking if I get a chance take it. You can't take liberties with Ronnie.

"At 8-2 in front you might think that against anybody else."

Many will lament the exit of O'Sullivan, but the final should still be a thrilling spectacle between Higgins, eyeing his third UK crown, and Ding, 2005 champion.

O'Sullivan, winner of the Shanghai Masters in September, has been in patchy form at Telford, and this enthralling semi-final between these two heavyweights encapsulated the two sides of this fascinating competitor.

606: DEBATE
Littlesense

Sometimes brilliant, occasionally mediocre and never dull, but nobody could have predicted this phenomenal finish after he was out-played for most of the first 10 frames, despite occasional spurts of brilliance.

It was two tight opening frames that went to Higgins, but the O'Sullivan fans did not have long before they had something to cheer about as their man knocked in a flawless 116.

The Scot hit back with a fine 83 and despite O'Sullivan knocking in a 61 in the next, Higgins scrapped all the way to get the required snooker and take it on the black.

The lead was soon 6-1 after a 127 break before the 34-year-old Chigwell star ended the first session with a nerveless 110 to at least give him some hope for the evening.

It was a perfect start for Higgins who edged the night's opening frame and a break of 109 - the tournament's 45th century - got the Scot within one of victory.

The six-frame deficit seemed to relax the number one and after playing a couple of exhibition shots and a scratchy break of 57, he pulled one back and then another with a stunning 134.

It was his sixth century of the tournament and thoughts of just keeping the score respectable begun to turn to a possible comeback.

The 13th frame was extra-ordinary. Having gifted his opponent 24 points after six misses, O'Sullivan touched the black with a hand which denied Higgins the chance to ask his opponent to return to the table for a seventh time.

The referee's call bemused Higgins while a rejuvenated O'Sullivan won the frame after fluking the yellow and the deficit was now just three at 8-5.

A rattled Higgins was missing a number of relatively easy pots and after another fluke by O'Sullivan the match was soon entering the final frame decider.

With both players gnawing at their finger nails, it was Higgins who steadied his nerves to claw his way back and secure the dramatic win.

Next up for the 34-year-old Scot is China's hottest property Ding Junhui with Higgins leading 7-2 in the head-to-heads.



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see also
UK Championship 2009 - full results
05 Dec 09 |  Snooker
O'Sullivan & Higgins reach semis
10 Dec 09 |  Snooker
Ding & Maguire reach semi-finals
09 Dec 09 |  Snooker
O'Sullivan delight at Hearn role
08 Dec 09 |  Snooker
O'Sullivan cruises past Stevens
07 Dec 09 |  Snooker
Hearn confirmed as snooker chief
17 Dec 09 |  Snooker
Snooker on the BBC
08 Apr 11 |  Snooker


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