World snooker champion John Higgins aims to make a mark in Grimsby
FOUR-time world snooker champion John Higgins believes fate could be on his side as he bids for Premier League glory in Grimsby this weekend.
The Scottish cueman hopes to end a 13-year wait for his second Premier League title as the finals of the event head to the region for the first time.
But Higgins, who lifted the world crown last year, wouldn't be in the tournament but for perennial champion Ronnie O'Sullivan's decision to withdraw from competitive snooker this season.
Higgins got the nod to replace the 11-time Premier League winner and has duly made it through to the final-four showdown at Grimsby Auditorium.
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The 37-year-old lines up alongside world number one Judd Trump, 2010 world champion Neil Robertson and former world amateur title winner Stuart Bingham – who is also his semi-final opponent.
"I was fortunate to get into the tournament this time," said Higgins, who won the Premier League in 1999. "Ronnie O'Sullivan pulled out and I was the next one that (promoter) Barry Hearn invited.
"I'd love to win it again, I've only won it once before.
"If I win it this time, perhaps I'll have to buy Ronnie a drink!
"It's funny, sometimes things like that can happen in sport.
"It can be a case of a little bit of fate involved and maybe that's the case with me this time."
Higgins heads to Grimsby in good form after winning two titles this season – he beat Judd Trump 10-9 to win the Shanghai Masters in September, before conquering the 23-year-old again, 4-2, to win Event Four of the UK Players Tour Championship earlier this month.
He made the final of the Victoria Bulgarian Open last week, but that time Trump got his revenge by winning 4-0.
"I'm happy with my form and want to keep it going with big events like the UK Championships and Masters coming up," said Higgins.
"Although I lost to Judd quite heavily in Bulgaria, I didn't do a lot wrong – he's just playing with a lot of confidence now.
"I've got a tough semi-final against Stuart Bingham today.
"He's probably been the form player of this Premier League so far (Bingham stormed to 6-0 victories against Robertson and Mark Selby in the group stages).
"Hopefully my experience can come into play.
"It's not just six frames now; it's the best of nine, so it's a different game.
"This will be the first time Stuart has been in the Premier League semi-finals so hopefully I can get the better of him on the big occasion.
"It's a massive tournament with a lot of exposure, and you're always playing in front of packed crowds.
"I'm sure Grimsby will be up for it, hosting a big snooker event like this for the first time.
"And I'm sure the fans will love it and give the four players great backing."