World Championship 2017: John Higgins is a Crucible contender - Stephen Hendry

John Higgins
Higgins last won the world title in 2011
Venue: The Crucible Theatre, Sheffield Dates: 15 April - 1 May
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, BBC Red Button, Connected TVs, online and app.

Stephen Hendry believes that, if John Higgins can find his best form, he is capable of winning the World Championship for a fifth time.

Higgins faces England's Martin Gould in the first round at the Crucible on Monday.

The Scot won back-to-back titles - the China Championship and the Champion of Champions - earlier this season.

"If he can recreate that, he's in there with a definite shout," Hendry told BBC Scotland.

"He won two tournaments in a row just playing fantastic snooker.

"I was working at one of his victories when he beat Ronnie O'Sullivan at the Champion of Champions and he was back to his best if not better."

Elsewhere in the draw, there is an all-Scottish affair between Anthony McGill and Stephen Maguire, while compatriot and 2006 champion Graeme Dott takes on Ali Carter.

But Hendry, who triumphed a record seven times at the Crucible, believes Scottish hopes of winning the tournament rest on Higgins.

"I would say he's the only Scot with the credentials to win the World Championship," he explained.

'Give it my best shot'

Higgins, 41, agrees that he can be a contender if he can produce his best form in Sheffield but admits the tournament is more demanding now than it was earlier in his career.

"If I can play my best stuff, I've got a chance, of course I have, but it's doing that over the 17 days," he said.

"It's natural that, as you get a little bit older, a few more scars in your mind, it's maybe more difficult than 10 years ago to win the event.

"I'll be going there and giving it my best shot."

Mark Selby and Judd Trump are the two men Higgins believes stand out as tournament favourites and he is not taking the challenge of Gould lightly in the opening round.

"He's one of the toughest draws I could have got," added the Scot. "I played him in the final of the Australian Open last year and I just managed to beat him in the deciding frame.

"He's a very attacking player. He likes the big stage and, when he goes to the Crucible, he always acquits himself well. It's a tough game.

"I would place Mark Selby at the top as the man to beat, closely followed by Judd Trump. He's had his best season since he turned professional, really consistent.

"Those two players are on opposite sides and people will say that would be the final that could very well happen.

"But there are a lot of very good players in that draw that could stop that from happening."

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