London (AFP) – John Higgins powered into the World Championship final on Saturday and immediately set his sights on joining snooker’s all-time greats.
Higgins has won the world title four times and will make his seventh appearance in the sport’s showpiece match after defeating Kyren Wilson 17-13.
The Scot is just one title behind Ronnie O’Sullivan’s haul of five and Higgins admitted it would be a great feeling to emulate his old rival.
“Of course it would, it would be amazing. He’s the best player ever in my eyes and if I got to the same amount of world titles it would be an amazing feeling,” Higgins said.
Only Stephen Hendry and Steve Davis have lifted the trophy more times at Sheffield’s Crucible theatre than O’Sullivan.
Higgins will face Mark Williams in the two-day final, which starts on Sunday, after the Welshman, himself a two-time former world champion, overcame Barry Hawkins 17-15 in a tense last-four clash.
“He’ll be going for a third one, I’ll be going for a fifth,” said Higgins. “He’s bald and I’m grey so it’ll be a mental final.”
Higgins first won the world title in 1998, and has twice lost in the final in 2001 against O’Sullivan and last year against Mark Selby.
Asked if he sees himself as the favourite to take this year’s title, the 42-year-old said: “No. I know it’s going to be another mammoth final. It’ll be a great match I’m sure.
“I keep using the word ‘proud’. I’m proud 20 years later, after I won my first one, that I’m sitting here ready to compete in another one. It’s a fantastic feeling.”
Higgins was 10-4 ahead against Selby yet lost in their second world final meeting 12 months ago.
Determined to make amends, he said: “I felt that was probably my best ever chance to win it (for a fifth time).
“It might still be my best ever chance. I don’t know how the next game’s going to transpire.”
Williams’ appearance in the final is the latest stage in a remarkable late-career revival. He did not even qualify in 2017, and last reached the final 15 years ago, when he defeated Ken Doherty.
He nearly retired last year and did not win a ranking title for six years, but Williams has already won two tournaments this season.