China's Ding levels at 12-12 with Selby at snooker worlds semifinals

John Higgins

John Higgins

The 41-year-old Scot turned an overnight 11-5 lead into a 13-6 victory at the Betfred World Championship, and he awaits the victor of the quarter-final between Barry Hawkins and Stephen Maguire.

The 30-year-old Chinese cueman had looked flat during the session earlier on Friday seeing his overnight lead, in the best of 33-frame duel, of 5-3 turned round to a 9-6 advantage for Selby.

Selby had been unable to shake a determined Ding off in Friday's engrossing evening session, with the Chinese star pulling level on 12 frames apiece with two centuries to round off a superb evening's work, full of remarkable snooker.

In the other semi-final, John Higgins took the initiative - moving into a 10-6 lead against Barry Hawkins.

Preceding Britain's biggest boxing night in history, that match was certainly the main event in Sheffield as John Higgins and Barry Hawkins stumbled their way through on the undercard.

Higgins believes he will be facing one of the greats if he and Selby reach the final.

Their last-four clash resumes on Saturday and Higgins is clearly feeling that 38-year-old Hawkins, who has reached the semi-finals in four of the last five editions, has a lot left in reserve.

Selby is the modern master of the sport, succeeding the likes of Higgins, Ronnie O'Sullivan and the retired Stephen Hendry. "That was my chance and if I didn't take it then I think the match would have got away from me and Ding could have come through".

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But 41-year-old Higgins feels defending Crucible champion Selby belongs in the highest class, saying: "He's one of the best who's ever played the game".

When the world number one compiled an excellent 128 at the beginning of the third session to pull three frames clear for the first time in the match, there were concerns that Ding's challenge could fade for another year.

"He's definitely got the belief now".

"I'm not in it to make the quarter-finals, I'm in it to win the tournament so until I do I'll never be happy". The man from China had him in all sorts of trouble, but Selby somehow manages to get out of it and then all of a sudden you are in trouble.

Ding had a chance in the final frame but a costly missed blue allowed Selby back in again, and he made no mistake this time.

Typically Selby would take such a setback on the chin.

Higgins, a victor of three non-ranking events this season, kept handing his opponent chances which he could not convert, but a missed black off the spot allowed Hawkins to take the contest to a final session at 19:00 BST on Saturday.

"So you need to be able to scrap it out and I ve shown in the past I can do that".

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