Eurosport - Sat, 24 Apr 14:00:00 2010
Steve Davis completed one of the most incredible wins of his career by upsetting the odds to eliminate defending world champion John Higgins 13-11 in an epic second-round contest at the World Championship.
Davis, 52, became the oldest man to reach the Crucible quarter-finals since Eddie Charlton, then 53, lost to Davis at the 1983 tournament.
Higgins - who was 16-1 on to beat his boyhood hero - trailed 9-7 entering the morning session, but quickly drew level aided by a 115 break in frame 18 - his 100th century at the esteemed venue.
Davis hardly played a shot in the first two frames, but showed all the courage, resilience and character that helped him claim six world titles in the 1980s - the last of which was an 18-3 drubbing of John Parrott in the 1989 final.
Higgins missed two key blues as Davis kept his cool to restore his two-frame overnight advantage in moving 11-9 clear.
The Scot, dubbed the Wizard of Wishaw, responded swiftly to his predicament as breaks of 59 and 56 allowed him to level.
The tension was mounting. Higgins was clearly not as his scoring best, while Davis was failing to capitalise on the chances that came his way.
Davis, 25 years on from his 18-17 loss to Dennis Taylor in the 1985 final, looked nervous on any ball from distance, but did enough to fall over the line in a scrappy 23rd frame and leave himself one frame away from the last eight.
Higgins made a strong start in the next, but broke down 42 points ahead. Davis scrambled his way into the frame before he settled the match by doubling a wonderful brown and nudging the blue over a bottom pocket.
He rolled in the blue and pink to end Higgins's bid for a fourth world title as the packed Crucible audience roared their delight.
Davis will face Neil Robertson in the last eight. He last reached the quarter-finals in 2005 when he lost to Shaun Murphy.
Second session report
Steve Davis clung on to his lead over John Higgins in the last 16 of the World Championship in Sheffield, taking the final frame to end the second session 9-7.
Higgins, who struggled for rhythm in the opening session and began the second one 6-2 down, started well.
A 78 break, his third half-century of the match, secured him the frame before Eighties kingpin Davis welcomed the opportunity to clear up and gain some potting practice.
However neither player really found their rhythm after that. For every cross-doubled red and superb safety there was a simple miss or botched attempt at defence.
The unique pressure of the Crucible Theatre was getting to them, despite Davis's six triumphs there and Higgins having won three times, including last year.
Higgins found form on the colours to move to 6-4 before a Davis moment of magic, producing a steady 83 clearance to get the Crucible believing once more.
There was another one to follow as he nudged the brown free while potting the yellow, sank the green then doubled the frame-ball brown to move back four frames ahead.
Higgins emerged with the next frame after a low-scoring battle before a brilliant 106 - his first century of the match and 99th at the Crucible - closed the gap to two.
The scoreline then read 8-7 thanks to two pieces of incredible fortune: first Higgins left a red over the bottom-left pocket but unintentionally snookered Davis down the length of the table; then when the Ginger Magician came off the long cushion to pot it, he watched in disbelief as the cueball rolled into the right-centre bag.
Davis - playing in the Sheffield showpiece for the 30th time - looked likely to be pegged back in the final frame of the afternoon when he touched a red while trying to pot the black.
But Higgins missed an easy red over the bottom-left pocket and a 55 run ensured an advantage for 52-year-old cueman Davis heading into session three on Saturday.
First session report
Eighties legend Steve Davis played some of the best snooker of his career to take a 6-2 lead over world number two John Higgins in their last-16 World Championship match in Sheffield.
If that seems a trifle overstated, think again - the now-grey-haired Ginger Magician's safety play was flawless while his potting percentage of 95 compared more than favourably with the low-eighties of the provisional world number one.
And it was a real tactical battle from the second frame, once Davis had put the first to bed with a half-century and substantial second visit.
The first notable miss of Higgins's session arrived early in that second, but Davis could only reach 15 before being forced to find the baulk. The Scot prevailed on this occasion thanks to a break of 60, with Davis attempting to draw the frame out by taking almost two minutes on one shot amid a slew of safeties from both players.
Davis retook the lead following another mammoth frame, with a 48 run breaking up the sludgy contest which ended 83-7. The next was just as hard-fought, with both players enjoying good fortune and bad before Davis's cueball dropped into a corner pocket to allow Higgins to clear up ahead of the interval.
With Stephens Maguire and Lee racing through their first-round match on the other table - to the detriment of the latter - the comparison could not have been starker. But those fans who remained in place to see the partition rise - all of them, in fact - were then treated to a spectacle between two sporting warhorses.
For had Higgins been playing someone else, he could have ended the day ahead despite his wayward potting. Davis, who made a 72 in the fifth frame, made sure that every ball counted - and the usually unflappable Wizard of Wishaw was cowed enough to miss even a simple black from close range.
Fifty-two-year-old Davis built a 35-point in the next only for Higgins, a winner of 21 ranking tournaments to Davis's 28, to move past 50. However he missed a cut along the cushion which fell safe, leading to more defensive work. It was Davis, ranked 23, who emerged from it with the pot - and held his nerve to clear to the pink. A long look down at the table after it dropped betrayed his anxiety in the now-unfamiliar high-pressure surroundings.
Then came the moment that had the Crucible on its feet. A long red set up a break with the rest of them wonderfully positioned, and Davis went on to record his first century of the season - a 102 - before missing the yellow.
With one frame remaining in the session, the pressure was on Higgins to reduce the arrears. A final duel ensued as the stopwatch passed the three-hour mark, Davis passing 50 to force the Scot to look for a snooker.
The six-times Crucible champion fought to escape several excellent attempts, while an attempted double - which would have put the frame to bed, and placed the red safely as an insurance - jumped out of the centre-right jaws.
One escape almost saw the red drop into that same pocket, prompting another of those rueful smiles, while perhaps the easiest all was the one he missed. And as quickly as the opportunity formed in Higgins's mind, it disappeared once more. Going for an ambitious long yellow, he brought the white back up the table - and into the top-left pocket.
A brilliant long yellow from Davis then similar green on his next visit saw Higgins concede, while the Crucible dreamed of a seventh title for their favourite son. It is early days and they are long odds, but on this evidence he has what it takes to go a long way.
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