13.12.10

HIGGINS COMPLETES FAIRYTALE COMEBACK

What a night, what a match and what a great player John Higgins has once again proved himself to be.

His recovery from 9-5 down to beat Mark Williams 10-9 in the final of the 12bet.com UK Championship completes his own miracle of Christmas.

The worst year of his life has ended with one of his greatest ever victories.

I thought early on today he looked nervous, almost as if he was trying too hard. His father, gravely ill with cancer, could not be with him in Telford and Higgins knew what eventual victory would mean to the man who first got him into snooker at the age of nine.

This looked unlikely when Williams held a four frame advantage, needing just one for victory, but Higgins dug deeper than perhaps anyone has ever dug in a major final and somehow got over the winning line.

You could see at the end what it meant to him and his family. An unbelievable return from the wilderness and proof that, despite the constant conjecture about events earlier this year, his status as one of the all time greats is not in doubt.

Credit as well to Williams, too, for the way he battled all through the tournament and in particular for his deadpan response to defeat. He was as gracious as Higgins was dignified.

These two can stand in the pantheon of legends alongside Hendry and Davis, O'Sullivan and Reardon, the other Higgins too.

The climax proved that big time snooker can still deliver great drama: without the gimmickry of shot clocks, music and all the other peripheral stuff.

It was two greats going toe-to-toe and it was brilliant viewing.

51 comments:

Colin M said...

A major ranking snooker final just does not get any better than this!! I wanted see Mark lift the trophy and thought he would right up until that pink went safe in the final frame!

This was an amazing comeback by John who, on reflection, produced the best snooker throughout this tournament. The amount of natural talent this man possesses is quite staggering. There aren't the superlatives to describe it. To not play snooker at all for 6 months when under a career-threatening cloud and yet to be able to produce that standard when it really really matters, is simply breathtaking, nay, top drawer!!

Mark really impressed me in the final. He's back to almost his very best. Perhaps he was lacking recent experience of the business end of a major tournament. I genuinely think he would have beaten any other pro on the circuit today and was magnanimous in defeat. He deserves a keg of Boddingtons after that performance!

I hope that these two players meet again in the WCs in a 4 session match.

Some closing thoughts:

Murphy was unlucky to not be in the final. He must be close to winning a major again.

I was pleased to see that Stephen Lee has resurrected his game quite considerably. A pot success rate of 96% would beat most people in the world. Hard luck to be facing J. Higgins!

Lastly, it was great to see Jimmy White back on our screens. He was up against his old nemesis Hendry. Jimmy looked the better player in the latter stages but failed to kill the match off when he had chances to do so. Hendry produced a typically brilliant final frame to thwart the 'Wind...AGAIN. ARGGHHH. Jimmy's tactical game needs to improve marginally and I think he'd benefit from some intensive practice sessions with the Nugget (I volunteer to pick the balls out...).

Right..where's the wet towel...i'm off for a lie down after all that excitement!

Anonymous said...

the world no.1 Higgins is back!

Betty Logan said...

Probably a few too many easy misses (Higgins in the first session, Williams in the second) to go down as an all-time classic, but certainly one of the most thrilling matches of the last few years—probably since the 2006 Masters on UK soil. Both players really needed it badly to re-establish themselves as major tournament winners. Williams came within a whisker of winning it though, and on the previous occasions he did he carried the form into the world championship...

As for Higgins, out for 12 ranking events in which he loses the number 1 spot, and then in just three events recaptures it! It kind of looks like Robertson was just keeping the throne warm...It's been the pattern since 2006/07 though: everytime a younger player looks like breaking through to the top, either O'Sullivan or Higgins smack them back down. I wonder how long that pattern can go on for?

Anonymous said...

One of the best finals I've watched. Was a pleasure.

Anonymous said...

the two best characters in the game

also the best player in the game for the last 4 years has won.

welcome home john. you done it for senior

Anonymous said...

John Higgins is still a flagbearer on a snooker table.

More so than ever before.

Matt said...

So Higgins takes his 22nd ranking title after:
1994 Grand Prix, 1995 British Open, 1995 International Open, 1995 German Open, 1996 International Open, 1997 European Open, 1997 German Open, 1998 British Open, 1998 World Championship, 1998 UK Championship, 1999 Grand Prix, 1999 China International, 2000 Welsh Open, 2000 UK Championship, 2001 British Open, 2004 British Open, 2005 Grand Prix, 2007 World Championship, 2008 Grand Prix, 2009 World Championship, 2010 Welsh Open, 2010 UK Championship

NON-RANKING TOURNAMENTS
1998 Charity Challenge
1999 Masters
1999 Charity Challenge
1999 Premier League Snooker
2000 Irish Masters
2001 Scottish Masters
2001 Champions Cup
2002 Irish Masters
2006 Masters
2007 Euro-Asia Masters Challenge
2008 Scottish Open Championship

MINOR RANKING TOURNAMENTS
2010 Euro Players Tour Championship Event 5

PRO-AMENATUR TOURNAMENTS
2008 World Series Of Snooker- in Saint Heilier, Jersey
2008 World Series Of Snooker- in Moscow, Russia

TEAM EVENTS-
1996 World Cup
2001 Nations Cup

AMATEUR TOURNAMENTS-
1991 Mita/Sky World Masters Junior (Under 16)

Impressive comeback one of the best comebacks to come back from a six-mouth ban and won two events is impressive. Well done Higgins.

Anonymous said...

When you add up all the different factors, how many better major finals have there ever been?

Perhaps a couple of world final cliffhangers, maybe the 83 and 90 UK finals, arguably the Masters final of 06, and that's about it.

I hope whoever makes the decisions in BBC is aware of what a spectacle it all was, and remembers it for a long time.

I also hope it will end the tiresome "debate" about meaningless gimmicks like Power Snooker. The game itself doesn't need changing and never has.

All it's ever needed are changes in how it's run, how it's marketed, and how it's all presented to the viewing public.

The past 12 months have seen a positive start in that direction, and now with this outstanding UK final as the last televised match of 2010, it all means this has been snooker's most encouraging and positive year in a long, long time.

Anonymous said...

Longest gaps for players between their 1st major title and most recent.

Higgins) 1994 GP to 2010 UK
16 years 2 months

Steve Davis) 1980 UK to 1997 Msts
16 years 2 months

Ok Higgins is the only player to have won majors in 3 decades but these facts are more accurate.

Anonymous said...

What's so fairytale about it? I'm sure Mark Williams fans have another take on what constitutes a fairytale ending and this ain't it. This is a worst nightmare come true.

Anonymous said...

Matt) Anybody could have copied those facts off Wikipedia or Google

Sometimes you have to go deeper to find the not so obvious facts or patterns that emerge.

Anonymous said...

The ban was just what Higgins needed. I wouldn't be surprised if he goes on to dominate the game for the next 2 or 3 years. When focused he is galaxies away from the rest of the players. In fact Mark never looked like winning this one. He was close to win it but it was obvious that he would miss the crucial pots or run out of position on the frame ball. The pressure Higgins put up was far too much for anyone. So it's a great achievement for Mark to win 3 in the evening session. Most other players would have been whitewashed.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more with your last two sentences Dave.

A truly great match I came away from smiling.

Anonymous said...

pity the f9nal clashed with the mosconi cup. Will be interesting to see the viewing figures of both to see who stole the floating viewers.

Sonny said...

1:13pm - I share your pain bro :(

Anonymous said...

320, i dont share yours, bro

Betty Logan said...

Longest gaps for players between their 1st major title and most recent.

Grand Prix isn't a major. Longest gap between first and last major is Davis with 16 years. Largest gap between first and last ranker is Hendry with 17 years. O'Sullivan has a chance to break both those records by winning the world championship this season.

Anonymous said...

great final.
Mark was my favourite with his astonishing pots.
Anyway, I was happy at the end because it was great snooker, great sport.

John made a great recovery but Mark should have played better the last safety exchanges.

Anonymous said...

Betsy} Read the thread below you are wrong there are four majors.

Jimmy White won the 1986 Classic and 2004 Players Championship.

An 18 year gap.

Anonymous said...

I would love to have been a fly on the wall in Higgins Sr.'s living room when John lifted that trophy. That is well worth the pain of seeing Mark lose it from 9-5 up.

Anonymous said...

In response to earlier comments, this is the list of longest gaps between first and last major ranking titles:

1. Jimmy White (18 years, 90 days - 12 Jan 86 to 11 Apr 04)

2. Stephen Hendry (17 years, 104 days - 25 Oct 87 to 6 Feb 05)

3. John Higgins (16 years, 50 days - 23 Oct 94 to 12 Dec 10)

4. Ronnie O'Sullivan (15 years, 286 days - 28 Nov 93 to 13 Sep 09)

5. Peter Ebdon (15 years, 156 days - 31 Oct 93 to 5 Apr 09)

6. Mark Williams (14 years, 67 days - 27 Jan 96 to 4 Apr 10)

7. Steve Davis (13 years, 284 days - 20 Apr 81 to 29 Jan 95)

8. Ken Doherty (13 years, 5 days - 31 Jan 93 to 5 Feb 06)

Higgins was fifth on this list until he overtook O'Sullivan and Ebdon last night. Of course if we were to get into gaps between first and last major titles, Davis would gain more than 2 years because of the 1997 Masters.

But then White would gain a few years as well for the 1984 Masters, and that would lead to the question of whether he should also gain a couple more for the 1981 Scottish Masters.

That in turn would lead to someone saying that definitely didn't count, someone else saying it definitely didn't, and nobody being right or wrong because it's a matter for debate.

But you know where you are when you just deal in major ranking events.

Betty Logan said...

I can't believe I forgot about Jimmy's 2004 title! Is the Grand Prix really considered a "major"? I always assumed the majors were the "triple crown" so to speak.

Anonymous said...

ha ha ha i posted a comment from a snooker fan of 30 years earlier & mr hendon you did not publish it.The game is now trully corrupt & i bet higgins is giving you back handers.regards dave guise worcester ex snooker fan.John Higgins should of had a 5 year ban

Dave H said...

I haven't rejected any comments. Perhaps you didn't press the button correctly, although as an 'ex snooker fan' you presumably will no longer be reading this.

Anonymous said...

Higgins and Davis are pretty much equal on lengths in majors
16 YRS 2 MTHS.... Betsy

White holds the record for ranking event gap of 18 YRS 3 MTHS

Settled.

Roman Jones Esq. said...

I found the semi and final very exciting to watch, however, I can't fully agree with all the gushing plaudits for Higgins. Of course it was a great on-table performance. But even though he was cleared of the serious match-fixing allegations, he was still guilty of not reporting it and was banned for 6 months! He is not squeaky clean so I don't hold with the 'what a saint he is' comments. Giving us a great tournament ws the VERY LEAST he could do to make up for the negative headlines his lack of common sense created since May.

Anonymous said...

To those with problems publishing comments:
9 out of 10 times I have to press publish twice. The first time it jumps to the top without the pending approval message. Then I go back down and press again and it gives me the correct message.

It always works the second time but why it has to be so, I haven't got a clue. I too thought I was being censored which of course wasn't the case.

Anonymous said...

can someone please explain to me why higgins was not banned for 5 years.Especially when he bet on himself to loose.This charge was dropped.That is a great example of corruption and the way bbc pundits are pampering him,anyone would of thought he`d been hit a truck!!!!!I look back at higgins`s games over the years & how are we to believe he did not back himself to loose.The ones who look innocent always think they can get away with it."IT`S EASY,YOU CAN JUST MISS,MISS,MISS!!!!"Everyone at Telford forgot this.I will never! I hope he get`s booed at the masters & get`s loads of stick because he can never be trusted. Dave Guise worcester Ex snooker fan

Dave H said...

The allegation that he placed a bet on Shaun Murphy to win the 2009 world final was never proven.

However, this form of insurance betting is not uncommon. It's been going on for years. For instance, John Spencer was revealed to have done it. It doesn't mean the player is trying to lose, indeed Higgins won the final.

Quite rightly, though, it has now been banned.

Anonymous said...

If john higgins was totally innocent of not betting on himself then why didn`t he start legal procedings against TNOTW ?? That is so strange.If someone made claims like that to me I would not take that.You have not answered the pampering issue mr h

Dave H said...

I'm not a BBC pundit. If you don't like the way they have treated him then complain to them.

Anonymous said...

Ha ha ha the bbc.I felt like they were treating his as a hero!.The world open was proof that a tornament can still be great without higgins.I would email the bbc but what would they do about it? NOTHING !!!! Pundits & Presenters get a good wage.Why would they risk upsetting the bbc?There is only one man who can save us !!!!!! THE VOICE OF SNOOKER MR CLIVE EVERTON.I miss he`s commentating & it is a shame the bbc is slowly pensioning him off because i do believe he`d be on my wavelength on this subject!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Dave guise worcester(ex snooker fan)

Anonymous said...

Considering that Dave saw enough of the World Open to assert that was "proof a tournament can still be great without Higgins", he must have still been a snooker fan three months ago.

As the only televised tournament since then has been last week's wonderful championship, and it's hard to imagine any fan being turned off the sport by that, I can't help wondering what it was that turned him into an ex snooker fan?

I'd be really interested in seeing your answer Dave. If nothing else, you can never see too many exclamation marks in one place.

Anonymous said...

What turned me off from being a snooker fan is that the sport had the chance of coming down hard on higgins & bottled it.You cannot trust him or the people involved in the running of the sport.they came down hard on hann but that did not stop higgins.If the right outcome was reached i would have faith but now i don`t.The uk was a great week but higgins should of been watching from his big house in bothwell & be a man & leave your name!!!!!!!!! dave guise worcester ex snooker fan

Anonymous said...

So if what turned you off being a snooker fan is that "the sport had the chance of coming down hard on Higgins and bottled it", why did you then watch the World Open a couple of weeks later? And how do you know the UK "was a great week" if you're not a snooker fan anymore?

Anonymous said...

I only watched the world open because the wanna be match fixer was not playing mr hendon.I was informed that stuff went on & how sad it was that people treated him so nice.Not 1 boo!!!You must be a bbc pundit commentater or his chuby wife!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

oh and my name is craig davison

Anonymous said...

well craig does it not upset you that his actions have turned people against him & he`ll always have what he`s done over his head

Anonymous said...

It's classic diversion tactic that the player gets partly blamed and in doing so it generates publicity for the sport.

Good or bad publicity it's all the same to some people.

To single out JH is ignorant and primitive when many other strings were pulled to get the whole episode to take place.

Anonymous said...

3.42

Calling his wife names? What a poor person you are.

Anonymous said...

Ronnie has to enter more events
Hendry got to reevaluate things
Robertson has to arrive earlier for his matches.

John Higgins back to his immaculate best is a huge positive for the sport.

Anonymous said...

HENDRY WILL RETIRE WITHIN 3 YEARS

Dave H said...

There will be no more spiteful anonymous comments about John Higgins or his wife on this blog.

Anonymous said...

Picking up on your previous comment dave,do any snooker players use your blog & what feedback have you had if any.Dave Guise worcester

PAUL HILLYARD said...

spiteful comments ? Do we have to leave our names to enable free speech DH We are snooker fans after all PAUL HILLYARD

Finn said...

Why oh why can't people just leave it alone. John Higgins was cleared of any match fixing, he recieved his ban and rightly so for not informing the WSA of the meeting in Kiev.However he has served his time and is now back playing.The man is a gent and hasn't a bad bone in his body and I for one am delighted to see him back playing again.
All you begrudgers leave him and the game alone, for once it's heading in the right direction yet still some people want to keep dragging it back.

Dave H said...

'Free speech' doesn't mean you can just libel people.

If you want to post ignorant bile, do it somewhere else.

Anonymous said...

Do any snooker pro`s read this blog?

Anonymous said...

400

several of them do
as do many connected to WS, 110 and other snooker connected companies

kate lawler said...

Does anybody take on board what snooker fans feel & if so do they pass on what the snooker paying public feel because if they did not turn up to watch snooker the game would fold.who is 400 ?

Anonymous said...

1034

400 didnt leave a name