|World Championship final 2017|
|Venue: Crucible Theatre, Sheffield Dates: 30 April-1 May|
|Coverage: Watch live on BBC Two, online and BBC Sport app.|
|Times: Sessions at 14:00 and 19:00 BST|
John Higgins secured a 10-7 lead over defending champion Mark Selby on day one of the World Championship final at the Crucible Theatre.
Scotland’s four-time champion made a superb 141 clearance – the joint-highest break in a world final – on his way to taking a commanding 10-4 lead.
World number one Selby finally found his form and breaks of 121 and 81 helped him win the last three frames.
The best-of-35 final resumes on Monday at 14:00 BST and is live on BBC Two.
The 41-year-old Higgins, who beat Selby in the 2007 final, is aiming to become the oldest winner since 45-year-old Welshman Ray Reardon triumphed in 1978.
Two-time champion Selby, 33, is bidding to become only the fourth player – after Stephen Hendry, Steve Davis and Ronnie O’Sullivan – to win consecutive world titles in the modern era.
Higgins dominates weary Selby
The two players had contrasting semi-final victories as Selby edged through with a thrilling 17-15 victory over Ding Junhui, while Higgins enjoyed a comfortable 17-8 win over Barry Hawkins.
There were expectations beforehand that the match would be a battle between two players who specialise in tenacious, matchplay snooker, but it featured nine breaks over 50, plus two centuries.
Despite opening the final with breaks of 76 and 62, Selby looked weary following his semi-final exertions, missing straightforward pots when presented with opportunities in the reds.
A missed red in the seventh frame will have been of particular concern, as the Englishman was 54-1 ahead but instead allowed Higgins to clear up with a composed break of 58.
Higgins claimed five frames in a row, knocking in contributions of 63, 95 and 58, as well as his superb 141 ,which equalled O’Sullivan’s effort in 2012 as the best break recorded in a World Championship final.
Selby revival restores hope
Selby looked to be on his way to a crushing first-day deficit, but in typical fashion managed to fight back to stay in the contest.
He had runs of 86 and 81 in the second session, but Higgins took a tactical exchange to go five frames ahead. However, he did miss a pink to the middle pocket with the reds open, as Selby responded to obtain some much-needed joy.
Higgins guaranteed himself an overnight lead by pinching the 13th and followed up with 76 to further extend his advantage.
But Selby somehow produced a late revival to keep himself in touch.
‘A nice lead to have’
Seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry on BBC Two
For the next few hours John will be very disappointed because he’s so experienced and knows frames can make a difference come tomorrow night.
Once he’s got over that initial disappointment, 10-7 is a nice lead to have.
‘Astonishing reply from Selby’
Six-time world champion Steve Davis on BBC Two
There will be loads of adrenaline pumping for both players, each for different reasons. It’s been a fascinating second session. I think by the end of the night they’ll have cleared their minds of all of that.
It was just an astonishing standard by the world champion and world number one in those final three frames. He’s superb. You’d expect it, but for a minute there it didn’t look like it was going to happen because John Higgins had him on the ropes.
Mark Selby (Eng) 7-10 John Higgins (Sco)
First session: 76-34 (76), 7-50, 121-8 (62, 58), 0-141 (141), 40-99 (63), 1-126 (95), 54-59 (58), 33-68 6-2 Higgins
Second session: 86-0 (86), 8-60, 44-74, 69-22, 1-68, 0-76 (76), 81-9 (81), 121-12 (121), 96-17 10-7 Higgins
Highest break so far: Higgins 141; Selby 121
Published at Sun, 30 Apr 2017 21:39:44 +0000
Tottenham’s victory over Arsenal means they can put “psychological pressure” on Chelsea at the top of the Premier League, says boss Mauricio Pochettino.
The Argentine said Sunday’s 2-0 win was “fantastic for our fans”, as Spurs confirmed they would end a 22-year wait to finish above their derby rivals.
But he added the “most important” thing was keeping up with league leaders Chelsea, who beat Everton 3-0.
“We are in the race and the gap is back to four points,” said Pochettino.
“We have to be focused now. We have another big game against West Ham on Friday, another difficult derby.
“That could be a chance to put psychological pressure on Chelsea. We play before them and, if we win, we will see what happens when Chelsea play Middlesbrough at Stamford Bridge on Monday.”
Chelsea’s victory at Everton earlier on Sunday had moved Antonio Conte’s side seven points clear of their closest challengers.
But Dele Alli’s 21st club goal of the season and a Harry Kane penalty secured Spurs a ninth successive league win, extending their best run since October 1960, when they won 13 games in a row.
Chelsea have been top of the league since 5 November, and were 10 points clear as recently as 19 March.
They have since lost twice – to Crystal Palace and Manchester United.
“I can understand our fans being excited about finishing above Arsenal, but I don’t feel the same because for me it is about trying to win the title,” Pochettino added.
“It is so important now to try and win trophies every season – that is our aim.
“It’s true that it will be difficult but we will see what happens.”
Sunday’s match was the last derby to played at White Hart Lane in its current incarnation.
Tottenham will play their home games at Wembley for the 2017-18 season while construction work takes place on their new stadium.
The club’s new 61,000-seater ground is being built next to the site of their current home.
|Tottenham’s 2016-17 run-in|
|Fri, 5 May||West Ham (A)|
|Sun, 14 May||Man Utd (H)|
|Thu, 18 May||Leicester (A)|
|Sun, 21 May||Hull (A)|
|Chelsea’s 2016-17 run-in|
|Mon, 8 May||Middlesbrough (H)|
|Fri, 12 May||West Brom (A)|
|Mon, 15 May||Watford (H)|
|Sun, 21 May||Sunderland (H)|
|Sat, 27 May||Arsenal (FA Cup final)|
‘The points don’t come from heaven’
The last time Tottenham finished above Arsenal was in 1995, when they came seventh and the Gunners were 12th.
Arsenal fans even came up with a name for the day on which it was confirmed Spurs would not be able to finish above them – St Totteringham’s Day.
This season, it is Arsene Wenger’s men faced with the insurmountable gap – they are 17 points behind Spurs with five games to play.
“They are the points,” said Wenger. “They don’t come from heaven. You earn them on the pitch and that’s it.”
Defeat at White Hart Lane left the Gunners six points adrift of fourth-placed Manchester City, albeit with a game in hand.
Wenger said: “It will be very difficult now but we have to fight.
“We have an FA Cup final and still the chance to get into the top four but we have to recover from this and prepare for our next game.”
Analysis – Has the balance of power shifted?
BBC Sport’s chief football writer Phil McNulty
St Totteringham’s Day is a gruesome day of celebration used by Arsenal fans to inflict annual misery on north London rivals Spurs.
It is the day in the calendar when Spurs can no longer finish above Arsenal in the Premier League, and has been a growing tradition since Arsenal last ended a season below their neighbours from White Hart Lane in 1994-95.
Spurs ensured this year’s St Totteringham’s Day was cancelled with a convincing win that means they cannot be overtaken by the Gunners – but does it mean the balance of power in north London has now comprehensively shifted?
Trailing 17 points behind Spurs, the evidence to suggest so is compelling, but Wenger can offer two convincing counter-arguments, despite seeing his team overpowered and outplayed.
Wenger rightly points out it will take more than one season every 22 years to mark a permanent shift, while Arsenal are the only team in north London with a realistic chance of winning a trophy this season as they prepare for an FA Cup final against Chelsea at Wembley on 27 May.
Arsenal beat Manchester City 2-1 after extra time in their semi-final, a day after Spurs lost 4-2 in theirs.
And, even in what have been regarded as Wenger’s fallow years, Arsenal still claimed the FA Cup in 2014 and 2015, while Spurs’ last trophy was the League Cup in 2008.
So it depends on context – and perhaps which team you favour – when deciding whether there has been a shift in power.
In tangible terms, it is still possible for Arsenal to have the more successful season – this excellent Spurs side have yet to turn glorious promise into silverware – but lose the FA Cup final and finish outside the top four with no Champions League football next season, and there is only one winner in this local rivalry.
In the short and long term, however, this Spurs team look a much better proposition than Arsenal for success.
Pochettino, at 45, is regarded as one of the game’s outstanding young managers, well versed in the modern methods, put into practice by a maturing, powerful, physical, energetic side.
Wenger, 67, is still surrounded by the uncertainty over his future and if he stays at Arsenal – the most likely outcome – faces a serious rebuild of a team that looks flimsy, not mentally strong enough and too often let down by its so-called elite players such as Mesut Ozil, who did a disappearing act at White Hart Lane. All those flaws were exposed by Spurs.
Spurs must build on the undoubted supremacy of their team next season to emphasise their dominance – but for now they look a team comfortable with themselves while Arsenal and Wenger look lost.
St Totteringham’s Day has been cancelled this year. If the same happens in 12 months’ time then perhaps that power shift in north London will be real and long-lasting.
Published at Sun, 30 Apr 2017 20:19:53 +0000