John Higgins has reached his 16th World Snooker Championship quarter-final after defeating Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham in the second round yesterday.
Higgins, one of the greatest players snooker has ever seen and a popular four-time World Champion, found himself in a situation where the crowd were firmly on the side of Saengkham.
A moment that summed up the crowd’s affection towards the Thai player happened in the 19th frame with Saengkham in with a brilliant chance of completing a 147 break. It was not to be however, and as he missed the final red, the disappointment of the crowd and commentators was palpable through the television.
OH NOOOOO 😩🚨😩
How unfortunate! Noppon Saengkham eyes up a 147 maximum, but the final red eludes him!@WeAreWST | #ilovesnooker pic.twitter.com/p5Zg9b25sF
— Eurosport (@eurosport) April 25, 2022
When Higgins eventually won, Saengkham paid him a beautiful tribute.
John Higgins the victor but what a beautiful way to bow out of the arena from Noppon Saengkham. #snooker pic.twitter.com/LrIcIX34ou
— Nick Metcalfe (@Nick_Metcalfe) April 25, 2022
In his post-match comments, Higgins was completely understanding of the crowd’s warmness towards Saengkham, and gave an insight into the genuine nature of the Thai that makes him so loveable.
"His friends and family were all up there," Higgins said, commenting on his 147 attempt.
"He was just willing it to do it for them. He had all the crowd on his side. He's got that infectious personality.
"Everybody loves him. Even after yesterday when I was 4-4 after the first session he was giving it the fist pumps, he's bumped into me. If it were any other player, you would be getting the hump with him. I think just being Noppon you know there's no malice intended."
Saengkham is ranked 38th in the world and thus defied expectations to reach the last-16, which added an underdog element to his match.
Higgins will now face off against Jack Lisowski, after the Englishman knocked out one of the pre-tournament favourites Neil Robertson.
Joining Higgins in the quarter-finals are Mark Williams and Ronnie O’Sullivan, who are all members of the class of 92’, having turned professional 30 years ago, while all three are considered among the best players ever.