Tragedy spurs on Higgins at world champs

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AN INSPIRED John Higgins is determined to win this year’s Betfred.com World Championship for his late father.

Higgins resumed his Crucible title-challenge yesterday against arch-rival Mark Williams for the first session of their best-of-33 frame semi-final tussle.

And the determined Scot has admitted he’s not struggling for motivation to win snooker’s greatest prize for a fourth time.

Higgins’ dad, John Senior, sadly passed away in February after a six-year battle with cancer.

But with another Crucible crown well-within his grasp, Higgins revealed his father’s “spirit” is spurring him on.

“He’s been inspiring me,” said Higgins. “It’s the first time I’ve been down here and he’s not been here.

“But I know he’s watching down, I know he’s here in spirit for me.

“He was a big character at the Crucible, always in and around the place.”

Higgins’ return from a six-month ban and a £75,000 fine for bringing the sport into disrepute has been nothing short of staggering.

Since his return to the green baize the Scot has won five tournaments, retained his world No 1 status - although that will end at the end of the season win or lose the main tournament - and pocketed over £225,000 in prize-money.

But, more significantly, having lost his father, Higgins has somehow held himself together despite all of his personal and family turmoil to give himself a chance of landing the biggest prize of all.

Meanwhile, Crucible legend Stephen Hendry has now decided not to retire. The seven-times world champion was seriously considering hanging up his cue for good this summer after an illustrious 26-year professional career.

But because Ding Junhui beat Stuart Bingham in the last 16 stage of snooker’s biggest tournament, Hendry clung on to his elite top 16 status and will now carry on playing.

Judd Trump helped himself to a 5-3 lead over Ding Junhui after the opening session of their semi-final clash.

Trump, 21, lost the first frame as Ding knocked in a break of 102. But Trump compiled breaks of 110, 42, 51 and 59 to establish a narrow lead.

TODAY’S PLAY

MORNING (10am): Judd Trump (Eng) v Ding Junhui (Chi) - maximum of eight frames.

AFTERNOON (2.30pm): John Higgins (Sco) v Mark Williams (Wal) - maximum of eight frames.

EVENING (7pm): Judd Trump (Eng) v Ding Junhui (Chi) - maximum of eight frames.