Higgins in command

What a strange opening session we have had between John Higgins and Mark Allen in the first semi-final and already it is looking like Mark has a mountain to climb against his vastly more experienced opponent…

John Higgins 6-2 Mark Allen

For the first four frames today up until the mid-session interval there appeared to be more kicks and awkward bounces than we had seen during the whole of the quarter-final stage previously.The explanation for this is apparently that the humidity in the arena is greater than it has been and as a result at the mid-session interval, the table was ironed and the balls replaced.

Predictably given the relative experience levels of the two players it was John Higgins who dealt with these issues the better and as Mark could put together a high break of just 38, the Scot moved 3-1 ahead. I expected John to perhaps start sluggishly given his exertions last night but of course it was Mark’s first experience of the one-table set-up at the Crucible and perhaps this was decisive.

After the break with the new balls, Mark pinched a tight fifth frame on the black with a break of 41 but this failed to halt John’s momentum as he immediately rattled in the first century of the match with a 114 to lead 4-2. Mark did have a gilt-edged chance in the seventh frame but he missed a tricky red with the rest by some margin and as Higgins finished the session cueing brilliantly, it is clear that the man from Antrim will have a lot of work to do tomorrow.

If Mark can win the second session and recover the scoreline to 7-9 then he is still right in there in the match, but against such a strong all-round player as John Higgins, if he were to lose it, the match would be gone as far as I can tell.

We will really see what Mark is made of now…