20 years after winning his first World Championship title, John Higgins is looking to join Ronnie O'Sullivan on five global successes to become the joint-fourth most successful player of the modern era.
Higgins sees off spirited Wilson
Higgins has been in excellent form throughout the competition, looking to put the demons of 2017 behind him after losing to Mark Selby in the final. The Scotsman's experience showed as he opened a 3-0 lead against semi-final debutant Kyren Wilson with breaks of 57, 65 and 77. Yet Wilson was not to be deterred, keeping himself within touching distance of the four-time champion with breaks of 61, 52 and 140 to end the first session 5-3 behind.
The second instalment was a much nervier affair with tactical and safety battles taking centre stage. Higgins failed to make a contribution over 50, Wilson only formulating a 65 and 74, as the duo shared the spoils with four frames apiece.
The break-building talents of both players soon returned in session three. Wilson started with determination as he made a 124 before being pegged back by Higgins who made breaks of 56 and 75. Yet Wilson continued to fight, winning three of the next four with formulations of 81, 106 and 93, only for Higgins to take an important final frame of the session with a 91 contribution. It left him 13-11 ahead rather than going into the final session level.
Wilson again went on to take the opening battle but the pivotal point of the contest occurred in frame 26. Higgins asked for two restless young supporters to be moved but held his nerve to win the frame before following it up with a break of 136. Wilson added what was to be just a consolation, only for Higgins to seal his place in the final with emphatic style, making breaks of 100 and 98.
Classic contests continue
Separated by just one place in the world rankings, Barry Hawkins and Mark Williams played out a Crucible cracker in the other semi-final. Hawkins hit the front after an impeccable fortnight of snooker, making breaks of 129 and 74. Two-time world champion Williams responded with a break of 88 and made 110 at the end of the session but lost three of the four frames between those successes with Hawkins formulating 52 and 90.
5-3 down, Williams had to make a quick start to the second session and he did just that as he won the first two frames without Hawkins potting a ball. The Hawk responded to edge ahead before Williams tied the score again at 6-6. However, the second part of the session fell into the hands of Hawkins who won three of the four frames with two half-century breaks before Williams won the final instalment with a 62 contribution.
128 for Hawkins appeared to give him momentum in session three, only to lose a trio of successive frames as Williams continued to show his grit. Yet Hawkins won three of the last four frames again after breaks of 53, 133, and 73 were sandwiched around a 103 from the Welshman.
13-11 up, it was advantage Hawkins going into the final session. However, a series of tight, tactical battles unfolded with Williams winning three out of four by slender margins, kick-started by a double-plant in arguably the shot of the tournament by the world number seven.
Hawkins restarted the session with a break of 60 before Williams drew level for a fourth time with a tactical success. He followed that up with a tight victory to take the lead for the first time in frame 31 before wrapping up the contest 17-15 with the final black. Williams will now play in his fourth Crucible final and first for 15 years.