Higgins v Trump - final preview

By Mark AshendenBBC Sport at the Crucible

After two weeks of shocks, sizzling century breaks and the occasional pink suit, the World Championship is down to two. John Higgins, eyeing a fourth world crown, versus 21-year-old qualifier Judd Trump.

Former world champions Steve Davis and Ken Doherty give their thoughts on the finalists' playing ability, how they've shaped up this year at the Crucible and how the drama of the final may unfold.

Judd Trump Age: 21 Born: Bristol World rank: 14 Ranking titles: 1

Davis: "Trump has been a breath of fresh air in this tournament and it doesn't look as though he's going to stop. His potting has been breathtaking, he's shown a superb tactical game as well and proven to everybody he's got the temperament and character that could win him the tournament.

"We found that after the bad session he had against Ding Junhui and the way he came back. We've seen a big jump in standard from everything he's played before. It was obviously there before but it all came out when he won the China Open in April. All the questions have now been asked and it's just whether he can put the final piece of the jigsaw together and win the final."

Doherty: "Judd has been an absolute revelation. He's really come of age and has lit up the whole Crucible theatre with his approach, the way he's played and his big smile.

"He entertains the crowd and that's what sport is all about. You can get slow and scrappy frames but he loves to entertain and show people what he can do. Some of the cue power shots this week have been phenomenal - some I couldn't even play.

"I grew up watching Alex Higgins and Jimmy White playing these shots and that's what brought me to snooker and many more people will be watching him thinking how great his talent is.

"For someone so young and to play so many great shots is amazing. If they did a 'shot of the championship' he would probably feature six or seven in the top 10. It has all come from winning in China when beating Mark Selby in the final.

"The boost must have helped him beat Neil Robertson in the first round, overcome Martin Gould quite easily and then Graeme Dott who should have been much tougher. Trump was my tip at 40/1 to win the tournament because of his confidence. It makes such a difference when you win your first major tournament.

"We knew how good he was but thought his game might not be up for the top level. But he's matured over the last month since China. If he won on Monday, it would be one of the most amazing stories since Alex Higgins and Stephen Hendry won it at such an early age."

John Higgins Age: 35 Born: Wishaw World rank: 1 Ranking titles: 23

Davis: "Higgins did a Houdini act to get past Mark Williams in the semi-final. He can play fantastic snooker when the chips are down and not playing at his best. He has this brilliant B game we are always talking about.

"He has shown great character this year to come back after things weren't going right for him and to dominate the second half of the season and to get in the final here, you can't ask for more than that. And he could cement himself as one of the legends of the game if he secured his fourth world crown."

Doherty: "Higgins is one of the best players I have ever played and seen play. He is so resilient, has a great temperament and he's a born winner. He never gives up.

"I played him at the Crucible in the 2003 quarter-finals - the year I lost in the final to Mark Williams. I was 10-0 up and I still wasn't confident! He got it back to 10-7. He's such a fighter. If you were going into battle and you had to pick a snooker player you'd pick Higgins above anybody else.

Higgins grinds down Williams to make final

"And if you were going to design a snooker player you'd design it from the mould of John Higgins. He's got century breaks, career wins, World Championship wins, maybe a fourth crown, great safety and great tactical nous. He's got every department covered. He's a trier and you can't teach that. It's in-bred and it's the quality of the highest order.

"When things aren't going his way, he can scrap. He almost trailed 10-5 to Williams which would have been an uphill battle, even for him. But he scrapped back to 9-7 and turned the match on its head. Williams had his foot on his throat, he took his foot off and Higgins duly obliged.

"Any budding professionals or professionals on the circuit breaking through, watch what Higgins does when things aren't going well. Everybody can play well and do the fancy shots, but when you're not playing well - that's when a winner comes to the fore."

Higgins v Trump - Who will win the final?

Davis: "Higgins is such a complete all rounder that it asks a bigger question of Judd Trump than even Ding asked. And that's the mountain that Trump has still to climb.

"Can he turn over Higgins, who is a monster in the game of snooker? We don't know the answer and that's why we are all here."

Doherty: "I fear for Trump against Higgins a little. Tactically he may not hold up to it, but I don't think Higgins is playing anywhere near as well as he can. If Judd was watching some of his sessions against Williams then he won't be afraid.

"When you play as aggressively as he does, he can put a lot of pressure on the safety shots and when his opponent is in, they know they can't afford to miss. Trump can score quickly and heavily. The experience of the Crucible can sometimes tell and he doesn't have much experience.

Trump finally dumps Ding after epic

"That may play a part as the game gets closer to the end. He was a little naive against Ding when things weren't going so well. He couldn't tighten his game up and he played some silly safety shots. I just love watching Trump play though and he needs to keep playing the way he does in the final.

"I'd love Judd to win it - it would be great for the game. I started off with Higgins as favourite and Trump my dark horse. I went for Higgins because of the experience and the way he's come back after his ban and losing his father.

"It's been a traumatic year and he seems more determined. He seems to have more of an edge and he's been the man to beat since returning by winning the Welsh Open and the UK Championship. I will stick with Higgins but only slightly."

Higgins v Trump live on BBC Two, Red Button and online (UK only) from 1400 BST

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