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Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

Higgins in peak form for Crucible clash with Hawkins

Wizard of Wishaw should win Sheffield semi-final in style

John Higgins has his eyes on the Masters prize
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Betfred World Championship semi-final
Eurosport, from 7pm Thursday

John Higgins has not reached the final at the Crucible Theatre since lifting the title six years ago but the Wizard of Wishaw can give himself a shot of securing a fifth Betfred World Championship with victory over Barry Hawkins.

The Scottish ace has rediscovered peak form this term, as highlighted by victories in the China Championship and the Champion of Champions, and has yet to be troubled en route to his place in the last four.

The 41-year-old silenced the talented Kyren Wilson at the quarter-final stage, mustering two century breaks of 135 and 129, and his delightful breakbuilding could once again settle the contest with Hawkins.  

Higgins’ win over Mark Allen in the last 16 was most impressive. The Scotsman was quick to pounce on any mistakes Allen made and, despite finding himself 5-2 down, displayed all his experience to run out a ready 13-9 winner.

Hawkins is featuring in his fourth Crucible semi-final in the last five years but over the longer format it’s difficult to see how he can topple Higgins, who is one of the finest match players to have ever graced the baize.

Hawkins’ route to the last four has been easier than anticipated, with the early exit of pre-tournament favourite Judd Trump, but believing in his ability is something that has held him back in recent years and he may find Higgins too resolute.

Higgins is fancied to get the job done with some authority and it could be worthwhile backing the Wizard of Wishaw to win by at least two frames.

Recommendation
J Higgins -1.5 frames
2pts 4-5 BoyleSports, Coral

Higgins silenced the talented Kyren Wilson at the quarter-final stage and his delightful breakbuilding could settle the contest with Hawkins
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