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O’Sullivan opens World C’ship semi-final ahead of Higgins

LONDON: Ronnie O’Sullivan took a four-frame lead over fellow former champion John Higgins in their World Snooker Championship semi-final.

‘The Rocket’, bidding to equal Stephen Hendry’s modern-era record of seven world titles, made breaks of 99, 91, 70 and 73 to open a 10-6 lead in the best of 33 frames at the Crucible Theater in Sheffield.

Higgins, himself a four-time world champion, had looked set to take the last frame of Friday’s session only for the Scotsman to miss a black from the spot, which would have left O’Sullivan needing a snooker.

O’Sullivan responded with a superb positional shot to get on the black from the second-to-last red and a 43 clearance tied the scores at 58-58.

That left the frame to decide on a repositioned black, a snooker’s equivalent of a penalty shootout.

O’Sullivan missed a brace attempt but Higgins couldn’t capitalize on his 46-year-old compatriot’s mistake, missing a tough pot in the green pocket.

Black ran down the table giving O’Sullivan an easier chance in the middle pocket and the Englishman, who won five frames in a row 6-5 behind, made no mistakes.

O’Sullivan will need seven more frames to claim victory when the game goes to the end on Saturday.

Earlier, 2019 champion Judd Trump won 11-5 over three-time Crucible king Mark Williams.

Trump took a 7-1 lead over the Welshman before evenly splitting the eight frames in Friday morning’s session.

Williams, who picked up a long quarter-final win over China’s Yan Bingtao, finished the second session with a 70 break but that still left him with six frames adrift of Trump, who had 114 breaks and 100, before the evening session.