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Saturday, 29 April 2017

World Final preview

The final of the 2017 world championship will see Mark Selby & John Higgins face each other over the best of 35 frames ,after both came through contrasting semi finals today at The Crucible.

Mark Selby reached his third world final in four years here,but only after eventually seeing off the determined challenge of Ding Junhui 17-15 in one of the most memorable semi finals here in years.

John Higgins on the other hand had a far more straight forward path to the title decider with 17-8 victory over a badly out of touch Barry Hawkins.to set up this rematch of the 2007 final.

Well of course a lot has changed in a decade.That final victory heralded the start of another period of dominance for Higgins through his early 30's,which would see him add a further two world titles to his CV over the next four years and cement his place on snookers "Mount Rushmore"alongside Davis,Hendry & O'Sullivan.

For Selby this final appearance came as a surprise to many,but it undoubtedly put him forward as one of the next generations real rising stars and the intervening years have seen him establish himself as possibly the games current dominant figure.

So a decade on from their previous meeting in a world final what can we expect?

Well in contrast to that final, Selby will start this one as a strong favourite after showing,yet again, in that semi final win over Ding ,that he has a depth of character unparalleled among the current generation. The fact is he has played like a champion here all tournament. growing in confidence performance round after round and looking set to peak when it matters most.

Higgins for his part has also produced some of his best snooker here & his victory over Mark Allen in round two was up there with his finest Crucible performances.Since then his performance level has dipped a bit,but that fact that Hawkins was playing so poorly probably didn't help his concentration either.and that coupled with an overwhelming desire to reach another world final at the age of 41 ,might have seen him just try too hard. I think now that he has achieved that goal,the shackles may come off again & the John Higgins of old might just be lurking underneath.

If that does happen this could turn into a really fascinating match as Higgins is certainly someone who can cope with Selby's hard match play.

What this boils down to is this. Can Higgins at 41 summon one last big effort & produce the snooker that has seen him win four of these titles? I think if he can ,he can certainly win a fifth title here.I just have a sense though that that may be beyond him and by Monday night we will be looking at Mark Selby,three time world champion.

 

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