John Higgins was the 1998, 2007, 2009 and 2011 Crucible Champion
|Conference location: Crucible Theater, Sheffield Events: April 17th – May 3rd
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Four-time champion John Higgins recovered from a “soul-shattering” start when he defeated Chinese qualifier Tian Pengfei in the first round of the World Cup.
The world number five was 4: 3 behind overnight, and an erroneous display left him 7: 4 behind.
A nervous Tian missed countless opportunities with victory in sight and Higgins took full advantage to make progress.
Back-to-back barrels took the Scot across the line but he said he was “poor”.
“Tian is going to kick himself,” said Higgins, 45, who has faced Mark Williams or Sam Craigie at the Crucible in the last 16.
“He had more than enough chances when he was 7-4 ahead. I was gone and it ruined my soul. It was embarrassing because I missed so many shots. I should go home.”
“I’ve been everywhere, but he also struggled. I think I pulled him down. He played well in the beginning, but maybe he was put off by my standards which brought me back into the game.
“Taking a few breaks at the end gives me confidence and it’s great to turn it around, but I have to improve.”
McGill refuses O’Sullivan’s date
World number 16 Anthony McGill joined compatriot Higgins in the last 16 by taking a stylish 5-10 win Ricky Walden.
30-year-old McGill beat his former Crucible semi-finalist 5-4 and breaks of 83, 130 and 69 helped bring the lead to 9-5. The win came after a chaotic 15th frame.
Elsewhere, Jack Lisowski secured a 5-4 advantage over the two-time finalist Ali Carter in a purely English session.
Both players scored a strong goal with eight breaks greater than 50 in the nine frames.
The best of the group was a 121-time runner-up, Lisowski, who fell 2-0 and 3-1 before winning four frames in a row to secure a head start in the first session.
On one day of the comeback, 2020 came second Kyren Wilson recovered 5-1 after morning practice to overcome qualification Gary Wilson 10-8 and earn a second round meeting with Barry Hawkins or Matthew Selt.
Gary Wilson, a 2019 semi-finalist, made the most of some unusual mistakes his opponent made when four points out of 50 helped him win five frames in a row after losing the opener.
But a break of 82 settled Kyren Wilson and two consecutive centuries – including a great clearance of 139 – helped him win six in a row, scoring more points of 61, 58, 119 and 73 for neglecting his namesake.
Ding benefits from a happy break
Ding Junhui reached the 2016 final, where he lost to Mark Selby
In the morning an unheard of coincidence helped in the last black of the session Ding Junhui Take a 5-4 lead over Stuart Bingham in a fascinating start to a high quality first round game.
Bingham, the 2015 champions, scored two centuries by taking a 3-1 lead.
Former finalist Ding hit breaks of 105, 86 and 88 at 4-4 and finished ninth when the black man rattled in a corner pocket in the jaw and fell on the other side.
Fans keep their distance from Crucible
A fun morning game was seen by just 83 fans, the lowest attendance ever in the eight sessions of the World Cup this year.
Easing the lockdown restrictions means the 980-seat venue could be up to a third full for first-round games, allowing fans to watch live snooker for the first time since the late 2020 World Cup ended on August 16.
On Sunday, 389 tickets were sold in three sessions, while the opening day saw the best attendance figures so far. The presence of Ronnie O’Sullivan undoubtedly contributed to the sale of a total of 632 tickets.
The capacity can be increased to 50% for the second round and to 75% for the quarter-finals and the semi-finals, with the aim of having a full house for the final.
A World Snooker Tour spokesperson said: “It was fantastic to be the government’s first pilot event and to welcome back a limited number of spectators. The numbers later in the event are much bigger, with a few sessions this coming weekend and that Finale just before the sale.
“We are aware that the conditions for fans are different than in previous years, especially that there are more restrictions on hotels and restaurants. We can assure all fans that all measures will be taken to keep safety as a priority. “
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