JOHN Higgins knows he will have to find another gear to keep his hopes of a fourth Crucible crown alive.
Triple world champion Higgins safely secured his quarter-final place after he converted a 10-5 overnight lead into a 13-7 victory against Rory McLeod, a qualifier from Wellingborough, in their last 16 match.
Ahead 10-5 overnight Higgins was always favourite to progress, but the world No 1 was far from happy with his own form.
“It was just tough all the way through, it was so tough to get any rhythm going,” admitted Higgins
“It was almost like a 13-12 win, I’ve probably put in as much effort as that.
“Rory’s a very good tactical player, but his scoring definitely let him down.”
Higgins completed victory with breaks of 51, 72 and 47, but added: “My cueing was letting me down all the way through the match. I’m going to have to go away and practice on a few things.”
McLeod was labelled a “grinder” this week after his first round match with Ricky Walden dragged on for over seven hours.
But the world No 36 snapped: “The game is called snooker, it’s not called ‘potting’. It’s a tactical game, more than 50 per cent of frames go down to the tactical side, and there’s a lot more to it than just potting the balls and clearing the table.
“Sometimes it takes longer, and that’s just part of the game - you have to play in all departments.”
Ronnie O’Sullivan reached the quarter-final by beating ex-Rotherham potter Shaun Murphy 13-10 late last night.
MORNING (10am): Judd Trump (Eng) v Graeme Dott (Sco) - maximum of eight frames; Mark Allen (NIre) v Mark Williams (Wal) - maximum of eight frames.
AFTERNOON (2.30pm): Mark Selby (Eng) v Stuart Bingham (Eng) or Ding Junhui (Chi) - maximum of eight frames; John Higgins (Sco) v Ronnie O’Sullivan (Eng)
EVENING (7pm): Judd Trump (Eng) v Graeme Dott (Sco) - maximum of eight frames; Mark Allen (NIre) v Mark Williams (Wal) - maximum of eight frames.