Home Sports World Snooker Championship: John Higgins rallies to Crucible win; Anthony McGill

World Snooker Championship: John Higgins rallies to Crucible win; Anthony McGill

World Snooker Championship: John Higgins rallies to Crucible win; Anthony McGill

John Higgins battled back from 7-4 down to defeat China’s Tian Pengfei at the World Snooker Championship

John Higgins blamed the suffocating Crucible pressure for his poor performance despite battling his way into the second round of the World Snooker Championship with a 10-7 win over China’s Tian Pengfei.

The four-time champion hit back from 7-4 behind to win six frames on the spin, belatedly finding his form in a match that twice went over its allotted schedule time by completing his victory with two consecutive centuries.

It may be the 45-year-old’s 27th appearance at the Crucible but, despite his colossal experience, Higgins admitted the venue’s weight of history was still impossible to ignore.

Higgins said: “It’s this place that does it – I think I stopped breathing a few times out there. That’s what it does to you – the pressure can be that intense.

“It was a poor game by me and I’ve dodged a bullet there big time because Tian had enough chances to beat me. I’ve brought him down to my level and it’s a big relief.”

Anthony McGill cruised into the second round at the Crucible

Higgins’ compatriot Anthony McGill proved he had no Crucible hangover from his agonising semi-final defeat eight months ago as he cruised into the second round with a 10-5 win over Ricky Walden.

Resuming with a slender 5-4 advantage over his fellow former semi-finalist, McGill extended his lead with back-to-back breaks of 83 and 130 before a 98 from Walden reduced the deficit.

But McGill responded to close out the match with three frames in a row, including two more half-centuries, to set up a last-eight meeting with Ronnie O’Sullivan.

“I’ll just try to play my own game,” said McGill. “I don’t think there’s anyone in the game who’s got the aura that Ronnie’s got – he’s the best ever and I’m really looking forward to it.

“I won’t approach the match any differently. I can only play as well as I can play, and if the other guy is too good then that’s fine.”

Kyren Wilson, beaten in last year’s final by O’Sullivan, was forced to battle for a 10-8 first round win over Gary Wilson.

Wilson trailed 5-1 in the early stages but hit back with three centuries to wrest the match in his favour, and despite a gallant effort from the underdog, the Welshman completed a cool 73 break to avoid another decider.

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