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Ding digs deep to keep revenge mission against Selby on track

30 April 2017

Hawkins led for much of the contest, leading 5-3 after the first session and 9-7 after the second.

Ding Junhui had a headache every time he came to the table. Yet Selby eventually secured his passage into a fourth World Championship final as he let out a roar of relief on his way to a winning break of 72.

He said: "I'm disappointed to have lost when I played so well but that is sport".

Higgins beat Judd Trump to take the 2011 world title, since when his best run had been a quarter-final showing a year ago.

Higgins believes he will be facing one of the greats if he and Mark Selby are the players going head to head for silverware glory on Sunday and Monday.

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John Higgins says winning a fifth world title would be his greatest snooker feat as he closes in on another Crucible final.

Higgins is tied on 28 with Ronnie O'Sullivan and Steve Davis, eight adrift of Hendry, while Selby has catching up to do after landing 11 so far.

Defending champion and world No.1 Selby has been the player of the season and at the top of a rolling ranking system for two-and-a-half years without interruption.

In the afternoon session, Scottish four-time champion John Higgins resumes 5-3 up against England's Barry Hawkins.

"He's got a great all-round game, and it's just testament to him that he's winning a lot of events and he wants to keep on winning". He will aim to convert that into a fuss-free victory today.

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Higgins, whose match against Hawkins was a stodgy, error-ridden affair, said: "I definitely need to raise my game".

The best-of-33-frame tussle could still contain plot twists, and Higgins came to Sheffield with a hunch Hawkins might be a dark horse who would carry off the title.

The Ditton potter booked a fourth semi-final in five years with a scrappy 13-9 win against Stephen Maguire at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, but with the trophy now in sight he knows he needs to ramp it up.

But Maguire, the 2004 United Kingdom champion, hit back at the beginning of the decider - winning the first two frames to level at 9-9, which included an excellent 126. He always had the game but I don t think he had the belief.

"I know how hard Barry is to beat", said Higgins.

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"When I had my chance there I was taking a little bit longer over my shots than I normally would but I knew if I didn't win the frame at that visit it would have got away from me".

Ding digs deep to keep revenge mission against Selby on track