JOHN Higgins’ hopes of defending his world championship crown appear to be over after a poor performance against Stephen Hendry left him needing a miracle.
Last year’s world champion trails 12-4 overnight against the Crucible king and will need to win all the remaining frames to avoid a second round loss.
Trailing 5-3 after this morning’s first session Higgins tonight suffered possibly his worst ever session at the Crucible losing seven out of the eight frames played.
The four-times world champion made several glaring errors throughout. A big miss on the final black in the session’s first frame which let Hendry in and claim a 6-3 lead set the tone for the night.
Hendry then began to pull away from Higgins – a 51 break helped him go four frames ahead before Higgins won the eighth frame to make it 7-4.
But that was the last moment of joy for Higgins as Hendry won the next five frames to put him on the verge of the quarter-finals. Barring a miracle, the defending champion is set for an early exit.
And it is looking very likely Hendry (should he win one more frame) will take on fellow Scot Stephen Maguire in the quarter-finals after he took a commanding 11-5 lead overnight in his last 16 tie with Joe Perry.
Maguire just needs two more frames to reach the next round.
Neil Robertson’s hopes of winning his second world title increased after he saw off the challenge from opponent David Gilbert to book a place in the quarter finals beating the Tamworth potter 13-8.
Elsewhere Ryan Day had the better of Chinese ace Cao Yupeng in their last 16 match earning a useful 6-2 lead overnight.