Steve Davis blew the top half of the draw for the World Snooker Championships wide open and promptly raised the roof of the Crucible Theatre with a stunning 13-11 victory over reigning champion John Higgins.
Resuming 9-7 ahead, Davis had to sit and suffer as Higgins clawed his way back into a match to trail only 10-9 as they came down to the colours. Amazingly, as a tense tactical battle ensued, it was Davis who played a bad safety to let Higgins in. However Higgins couldn’t capitalise and, to add insult to injury, he got a kick after having the balls cleaned. Hardly believing his luck, Davis seized the frame and an 11-9 lead going into the mid-session interval.
As play resumed, Davis was then forced to sit and suffer as Higgins the champion dug deep to level the scores at 11-11. Leading 43-0, Higgins was surely the favourite to capture the 23rd frame, but when he missed a black off its spot he gifted Steve a chance to respond. Carefully stroking in a mid-length red, the six times winner negotiated his way around the remaining reds and, with a vital break of 60, went 12-11 up.
With Davis at match point, Higgins faced a point of no return. Yet John was not going to surrender his title without a fight. The reigning champion built a lead of 40 points in frame 24 before running out of position to force play into an exchange of safeties. Davis must have thought he would be going to the final frame when he managed to leave a red sitting over the centre pocket. To oohs and ahhs Higgins missed it. Backing away from the table in horror, John knew he had gifted Steve a chance. Davis sat for a few moments to collect his thoughts before coming to the table. Cooly, he dispatched the reds and came to the colours. Still though the six times champion was exercising discretion and forced a safety mistake from Higgins when the Scot left a yellow to the corner. Sinking the yellow Davis followed with a powerfully struck green. The brown was the problem, sitting tight on the side cushion. Drawing on inspiration and skill Davis played the shot of his life as he doubled the brown and cannoned the blue close to the top corner pocket.
The blue was dispatched as a visibly shaking Steve lined up the pink to the centre. There was never a moment’s doubt as the pink dropped and the roof of the Crucible was raised. Higgins was gracious in defeat as he walked to the table, applauding Davis before shaking hands with his conqueror.