World Snooker Championship 2012: Tough for Trump - Higgins
WORLD SNOOKER CHAMPIONSHIP
- Crucible Theatre, Sheffield
- 21 April - 7 May
- Start times:
- Sessions at 1000, 1430 & 1900 BST
- Live coverage on BBC TV, HD Channel, Red Button and online
World champion John Higgins says last year's beaten finalist Judd Trump will have to deal with extra pressure as he targets a first Crucible triumph.
The 22-year-old, who plays Dominic Dale in the first round, enjoyed a stunning World Championship 12 months ago.
But Higgins, who begins his bid for a fifth title against Liang Wenbo, says expectation around Trump will be high.
"It's going to be tough for him because he's fancied now and he's obviously the favourite for the event," Higgins said.
"Obviously there's lots of people out there who want to see him go back and go one better."
With his self-proclaimed brand of "naughty" snooker, Trump - who starts against Dale on Tuesday, 24 April - surprised most people by reaching last year's final before an agonising 18-15 defeat.
Trump has subsequently won the UK Championship, snooker's second most prestigious title, and reached three other ranking event quarter-finals, the Masters semi-finals, and won two Players Tour Championship events.
"If someone had said to him last year when he was going into the event, 'Next year, you're going to be favourite for it', he wouldn't have believed you, but it only goes to show how far he's come," said Higgins.
Another man searching for his maiden Crucible success is world number one Mark Selby. The 'Jester from Leicester' won the Shanghai Masters early on during the season, but had to pull out of the China Open recently to due a neck problem. He begins against Barry Hawkins on Tuesday.
Having beaten Selby in the 2007 final, Higgins feels he is worthy of his spot at the top of the rankings, despite others questioning his credibility.
"It's hard for Mark. People are maybe not giving him the credit he deserves but I think it's until he wins that world title," the Scot added.
"He will be trying harder than anybody, you know that, because he's such a top-class competitor and the most consistent."
The most intriguing tie of the opening round takes place on Monday and Tuesday with fans' favourite Ronnie O'Sullivan coming up against old foe Peter Ebdon.
In a feisty encounter in 2005, one of two occasions Ebdon has beaten "The Rocket" at The Crucible, O'Sullivan was left frustrated by his opponent's tactics when Ebdon took three minutes to decide over a shot, before taking five minutes to compile a break of 12.
If three-time champion O'Sullivan emerges victorious from that reunion, he could face two-time champion Mark Williams - who O'Sullivan has beaten on all three occasions they have met at The Crucible - in the second round.
China's Ding Junhui - a winner of five ranking events in his career, including the recent Welsh Open - begins against Ryan Day on Tuesday.
"I think you could make the case for a lot of players," added Higgins. "You look at Ding as well. I'd be flabbergasted if he never wins a world title, because he's that good," said the holder.
The 17-day marathon concludes with a final held over two days on Sunday 6 and Monday 7 May.
World championship first-round draw in full:
John Higgins (Sco) v Liang Wenbo (Chn)
Mark Selby (Eng) v Barry Hawkins (Eng)
Mark Williams (Wal) v Liu Chuang (Chn)
Judd Trump (Eng) v Dominic Dale (Wal)
Shaun Murphy (Eng) v Jamie Jones (Wal)
Neil Robertson (Aus) v Ken Doherty (Ire)
Ding Junhui (Chn) v Ryan Day (Wal)
Stephen Maguire (Sco) v Luca Brecel (Bel)
Graeme Dott (Sco) v Joe Perry (Eng)
Mark Allen (NI) v Cao Yupeng (Chn)
Martin Gould (Eng) v David Gilbert (Eng)
Stephen Lee (Eng) v Andrew Higginson (Eng)
Ali Carter (Eng) v Mark Davis (Eng)
Ronnie O'Sullivan (Eng) v Peter Ebdon (Eng)
Matthew Stevens (Wal) v Marco Fu (HK)
Stuart Bingham (Eng) v Stephen Hendry (Sco)