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'Journeyman' Higgins suffers shock Crucible loss

ESPN staff
April 22, 2014 « United make move for Louis van Gaal | Test Wayin World Cup »
John Higgins admitted he is not a top player any more - but a "journeyman of the top 16" © Getty Images
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John Higgins suffered a World Championship first round defeat for the second successive year as Alan McManus held his nerve to win 10-7 at the Crucible.

The day after world No.2 Ding Junhui was shocked by debutant Michael Wasley, four-time champion Higgins was sent packing by fellow Scot and practice partner McManus.

McManus, who last won a match at the Crucible in 2005, led 6-3 overnight and further extended his lead when he took the opening two frames after the restart, which included a sound clearance of 88.

Higgins responded with a 54 clearance of his own to reduce the deficit to 8-4, but McManus made 61 to take the 13th frame and move within a frame of victory.

However, Higgins put the pressure on with runs of 111, 67 and 94 to make it 9-7. It looked set to be 9-8 when McManus missed the last red in the 19th frame, but Higgins failed to take advantage with a shot on the blue. It proved to be his last shot of the tournament, as McManus cleared to the pink for a famous victory and a place in the last 16.

Higgins told World Snooker's official website: "It's been a bad season but I'm a lot happier compared to last year. I think I'm playing better - that's a crumb of comfort I can take. I feel as if there's something there that I can work on. There's been times when I've been sat here desolate, but I still think there's some decent snooker left in me.

"I'm not one of the top players that's challenging for events, I'm possibly a journeyman top 16 player now. The journeymen can have their day sometimes."

McManus, the second oldest player in the tournament, will play oldest player Ken Doherty in the second round.

Four consecutive frames was enough for Judd Trump to take a 6-2 lead over Tom Ford. Trump enjoyed a break of 62 to level at two frames each, before he rattled off four straight frames to move into a commanding lead. Their match continues tomorrow.

Ricky Walden held off a late fightback from Kyren Wilson to book his place in the second round with a 10-7 victory.

Barry Hawkins holds a narrow 5-4 lead over David Gilbert ahead of the conclusion of their first round match on Wednesday. Hawkins top scored with a break of 115, while Gilbert posted a 77 in his highest visit.

Mark Allen also holds leads 5-4 in his clash with Michael Holt, who top scored with a 98 in the second frame of their first round tie.

Elsewhere, Marco Fu leads Martin Gould 6-3 with their match set to continue on Wednesday. Breaks of 124, 83, 88 and 64 put Fu in a commanding position. The winner will play Shaun Murphy in the second round.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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