Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Higgins hopes for busy summers with Hearn

John Higgins believes snooker can be squeezed into the summer sporting schedule, and insists the players all want Barry Hearn's plans for overhauling the season to be given the go-ahead.

Snooker has traditionally gone into hibernation after the World Championships, with the top players not called back into action for many months. There are exhibition tournaments to play, but nothing beats the serious action Hearn is proposing, with Players Tour Championship events pencilled in for the summer months.

Concerns have been raised by various players and promoters over the plans, but most aspects contained in the proposal are being emphatically supported by the stars, who have complained about schedules which have left them as part-time sportsmen.

The players will vote on whether to accept Hearn's plans in the weeks after the World Championship.

“We're all hoping now that the thing can be pushed through where we'll be playing in more tournaments. We're all thinking that,” Higgins said.

The reigning World champion began his defence with a 10-6 victory over Barry Hawkins yesterday, showing spirit to fight back from 5-3 down.

“I was thinking that if I'd have lost, when would my next match have been?” Higgins said. “And I was thinking it would be October under the old regime — let's hope that it's pushed through.”

Whereas Ronnie O'Sullivan condemned the length of the World Championship last year, Higgins is happy to stay around Sheffield and take in some matches before his second-round clash with Steve Davis or Mark King on Thursday.

If he wins that, Higgins could be just one more victory away from a semi-final against Chinese superstar Ding Junhui, who won the UK Championship in December. Higgins understands why many are backing Ding for Crucible glory this year.

“Ding deserves all the plaudits,” Higgins said. “He's earned more points than anyone this year and obviously he's a big favourite for this event.

“He's going to be a big danger for everyone.”

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