Not every break at the Crucible is welcome. John Higgins was forced to attend a local hospital in Sheffield on Sunday afternoon at the midway stage of his World Championship first-round match with world number 38 Mark Davis after his brother Jason suffered a fractured kneecap leaving the venue.
A hellish tumble in new trainers coming down the stairs resulted in Jason needing treatment by paramedics before requiring morphine at local accident and emergency with the four-times world champion part of the queue on Easter Bank Holiday.
Higgins had erected a 6-3 lead against Mark Davis on Sunday morning, but managed to get his mind back on the job sufficiently enough to complete a 10-7 win over a player who had enjoyed six wins against him in their previous seven meetings.
Higgins will begin his second-round match against Stuart Bingham or Graeme Dott on Saturday, and will drive home to Glasgow where his brother will have to undergo an operation.
“He fractured his kneecap so he needs to go back home and try to get an operation tomorrow,” Higgins told Eurosport.
“He’s in quite a lot of pain. It is a freak accident, and just the way these things happen.
I spent six or seven hours at the hospital last night. He’ll be out of commission for a couple of months. Just a freak accident. He was coming down off the last step and his trainer stuck on the step.
“The full force has went onto his kneecap so he’s fractured that. We’ll need to get him back up the road to get it looked at.
“Fracturing your kneecap obviously is serious, he can’t move.”
It was certainly far from ideal preparations for Higgins, who has lost the past two finals here to Mark Selby and Williams.
Davis made breaks of 57 and 64 to close to 6-5 behind and 82 to trail 7-6, but Higgins, finished strongly as runs of 135 and 132 to go with 100 in the second frame on Sunday, helped the Scotsman over the winning line.
But he said: “I would never have made an excuse if I’d lost there. I’m just more worried about him and getting him up the road and getting it seen to.
"I don’t play until Saturday so I’ll go back up the road and come back down on Friday. It’s great to get into the tournament.”
Higgins was not dreading facing Davis despite the Hastings player enjoying a formidable record against him in recent years.
“It was a big win because he has always played really well against me. It’s a tough game to come through,” said Higgins.
“When I saw Mark Davis coming out of the draw, I was actually happy. If you are worried about playing a qualifier in the first round, you are not going to go very far in the tournament.
“I was pleased because I knew I would have to be really on it to try to beat him. I think he helped me a bit because I don’t think Mark played near his best. Luckily for me I won.”
Higgins is enjoyed snooker sparring sessions on practice space owned by fellow Scots Anthony McGill and Stephen Maguire, who eked out a dramatic 10-9 win over Tian Pengfei in the first round on Sunday evening that included fluking a blue after getting a snooker in the 18th frame.
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“My game has still a lot of improvement in it, but you can’t improve going up the motorway," said Higgins. "I’ll go home for a few days.
“I think Stephen Maguire went home for a few days. I’ll try to get a few games, and come back prepared.
“It’s brilliant, really good. It’s good to get out the house, and I’m doing hours. It’s a mental thing to get out the house.”
Desmond Kane at the Crucible Theatre
First-round results & latest scores (best of 19 frames)
- Mark Williams (Wal) 10-7 Martin Gould (Eng)
- David Gilbert (Eng) v Joe Perry (Eng)
- Barry Hawkins (Eng) v Li Hang (Chn)
- Kyren Wilson (Eng) v Scott Donaldson (Sco)
- John Higgins (Sco) 10-7 Mark Davis (Eng)
- Stuart Bingham (Eng) v Graeme Dott (Sco)
- Shaun Murphy (Eng) 10-0 Luo Honghao (Chn)
- Neil Robertson (Aus) 10-1 Michael Georgiou (Cyp)
- Mark Selby (Eng) 3-5 Zhao Xintong (Chn)
- Luca Brecel (Bel) 9-10 Gary Wilson (Eng)
- Jack Lisowski (Eng) v Ali Carter (Eng)
- Mark Allen (NI) v Zhou Yeulong (Chn)
- Judd Trump (Eng) v Thepchaiya Un-Nooh (Tha)
- Ding Junhui (Chn) 10-7 Anthony McGill (Sco)
- Stephen Maguire (Sco) 10-9 Tian Pengfei (Chn)
- Ronnie O'Sullivan (Eng) 4-5 James Cahill (Eng)