Floyd Mayweather-style jabs and the ‘best shot-maker in the game’ dumped John Higgins out of the World Snooker Championship at the Crucible, writes Will Jennings.
The four-time world champion went down to a shock 13-7 defeat against fellow veteran Mark Williams on Saturday night as he was suffocated by his old rival on the Sheffield baize.
Williams, a three-time world champion himself, fired in three fluent century breaks to stun the Wizard of Wishaw and extend his wait for a first Crucible title since 2011.
Seven visits of fifty-plus from the Welshman proved too hot for Higgins to handle and the Scot, ranked world No.5, reckons facing an in-form Williams is like stepping in the ring with Mayweather.
Higgins, 45, said: “I didn’t play well enough.
“Mark is the best shot-maker in the game – it must be what it’s like to fight Floyd Mayweather. He’s just so clever.
“You can’t really open the balls up because then he can pot them as well as anyone, and that must be what it’s like [against Mayweather].
“He was hitting me with jabs all the way through that match. I was a bit confused for most of the game.
“He’s so clever in his all round game – I played okay at the start and he gave me a couple of chances, but I never took them.
“From 3-1 up, the game got away from me. It’s been a pretty bad tournament really – I never played well enough at any point during the tournament so it’s disappointing.”
Higgins struck a magical 147 maximum break at the World Championship last year and couldn’t have come much closer to doing so once again against Williams.
The 31-time ranking event winner missed the 15th black when poised on 113 and was gutted to miss out in front of returning fans at the Crucible.
The Scot added: “I’m disappointed with that because I thought I had a good chance of doing that. That was disappointing in front of the fans.”
Higgins had raced into a 3-1 lead after breaks of 58, 90 and 75 got him off to a flyer in Sheffield.
But world No.12 Williams then rattled off nine frames on the spin to turn the Crucible tables and leave Higgins with a mountain to climb.
It proved an insurmountable deficit for Higgins to overhaul and despite breaks of 113, 107 and 82, the nine-time Triple Crown champion was dumped out in the last 16 for a second consecutive year.
The Scot has enjoyed an upturn in fortunes on tour this season, reaching the Masters final in January before soaring to a first ranking event title since the 2018 Welsh Open at the Players Championship.
He’s now welcoming a new addition to the family over the summer and is relishing a long-overdue break from the hectic World Snooker Tour.
“We’ve got a new addition to the family coming – a dog, not a baby!” he laughed.
“We’ve got a cavapoo coming in the next few weeks so that will be good – we’ll try and get out, do a few walks and lose a wee bit of weight.”
Watch the World Snooker Championship live on Eurosport and Eurosport app from April 17- May 3