World Snooker Championship 2019: John Higgins into final after thriller against David Gilbert

Snooker
World Snooker Championship 2019: John Higgins into final after thriller against David Gilbert

Four-time champion John Higgins came from behind to beat David Gilbert 17-16 in a thrilling decider to reach his eighth World Championship final.

Scot Higgins, 43, has been runner-up the past two years and was in poor form for large periods in the contest.

But he overturned deficits of 8-3, 10-6 and 14-11, taking the last two frames with breaks of 139 and 55 to advance.

Judd Trump is three frames away from setting up a repeat of the 2011 final, leading qualifier Gary Wilson 14-10.

They play to a conclusion from 19:30 BST.

Higgins had to draw on all of his experience to claw back Gilbert's advantage and a break of 96, following a rare double re-rack, moved him ahead in the match for the first time at 15-14.

Gilbert, appearing at this stage for the first time, dug deep with a 78 to bring the score back level before going ahead after a 40-minute 31st frame.

Higgins forced a decider with a total clearance of 139, then capitalised on a missed black by Gilbert to make an ultimately match-deciding 55 break.

Reaching the final of snooker's showpiece event caps an outstanding turnaround for Higgins, who was at such a low point in December that he hinted at retirement at the end of the season because of a lack of motivation.

In a season containing 20 ranking and four non-ranking events, Higgins has failed to win any. His best finish was reaching the final of the China Championship in September where he was beaten by Mark Selby.

His performance in the second session against Gilbert, in which he missed the simplest of pots and produced loose positional play, was so dreadful that six-time world champion Steve Davis said it was "ridiculous" and that he had "never seen anything quite like it".

But he still somehow managed to rejuvenate himself in the latter part of the match and eventually showed his class and how good he can be under pressure, making a tournament-high 143 break as well as 139 in the penultimate frame.

A tense tussle in the final frame lasted half an hour, 27 points separated the two players with one red remaining, but Higgins cut it into the middle to take the match.

For large parts, Saturday's morning session between Trump and Wilson was a struggle for both players, with tension and few frame-winning breaks on offer.

Trump, who last reached the final in 2011 when he lost to Higgins, made 114 and 67 while his opponent compiled 52, but Trump took a prolonged 44-minute frame in the last of the session to seize the initiative heading into the conclusion.

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Trump struck the 87th century at this year's World Championship, making it a record at the Crucible Theatre.

Englishman Trump's 114 break against qualifier Wilson surpassed the previous best of 86, which was compiled in 2015 and 2016.

Wilson has made the most so far with eight, while opponent Trump is one adrift with seven.

The record for most centuries made in a single tournament is 16 by seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry in 2002.

With the best-of-35 frame final still to come, the 100 landmark could be reached for the first time.

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