JOHN Higgins was toasting sweet success last night as he was crowned the new champion of the world.
The determined Scot clinched a battling 18-15 victory over Bristol’s Judd Trump, snooker’s rising star, at the Betfred.com World Championship in Sheffield.
It was Higgins’ fourth Crucible crown as he completed a remarkable season since returning from a six-month ban for bringing the sport into disrepute.
And with a battling victory, and a deserved winner’s cheque of £250,000, Higgins became the third most successful player at the Crucible.
Higgins’ first world title for two years saw him join Stephen Hendry, his Scottish compatriot, and six-time winner Steve Davis in an elite group of Crucible champions who have dominated at snooker’s greatest stage.
It was also Higgins’ 24th ranking title and, incredibly having missed 15 tournaments this season through his suspension, it took the players’ earnings to almost half a million pounds for the season.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling to have won this, it’s amazing,” reflected Higgins. “I wouldn’t be here without my family, they’ve been my inspiration.”
“He was by far the better player, he was playing a brand of snooker I’ve never seen in my life.
“We’ve got a new sensation, which is great for snooker. It’s just a fantastic feeling.”
Ahead 10-7 overnight Trump was an early favourite to upset his more experienced opponent.
The 21-year-old left-hander has sparkled at the sport’s spiritual home, while Higgins has fought tooth and nail for redemption after a scandal which threatened to prematurely end his career.
But Higgins made his ‘big match’ experience count as he won six of the eight frames in the penultimate session to edge 13-12 ahead.
A break of a break of 62 saw Higgins edge two frames clear but Trump fought back to make it 14-14.
The Scot kept his nerve under pressure and a break of 50 made it 17-15.
Trump had his chances in the next frame, but he missed a routine pot on a pink ball to a corner pocket and Higgins pounced to secure an amazing victory.