The 46-year-old, who won the first of his four Crucible titles 24 years ago in 1998, reached the quarter-finals on Monday with a 13-7 win over Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham.
He joins six-time winner O’Sullivan and Williams, with three world titles to their name, in Tuesday’s quarter-final, the trio between them winning 13 of the last 24 finals in Sheffield.
“I think myself, Mark Williams and Ronnie O’Sullivan are three of the best players ever,” said Higgins, who is looking to win his first world title since 2011, having lost in the final in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
“Mark Williams is playing amazing things since switching to the SightRight method, O’Sullivan is a different animal and he’s fighting for every frame and I’ve been outspoken that I think I’m playing better than ever.
“Being in the game for 30 years and playing better than ever is an achievement.”
It marks the fourth time the trio have reached the quarterfinals together, after doing so in 1998 (Higgins beat Ken Doherty 18-12 in the final), 1999 (Williams lost 18-11 to Stephen Hendry in the final) and 2011 ( Higgins defeated Judd Trump 18-15 in the final).
Only O’Sullivan (20) and Hendry (19) have reached more Crucible quarter-finals than Scotland’s Higgins, who is through to the quarter-finals for the 16th time.
And after undergoing a strict fitness regimen, losing nearly four stones, Higgins has been in impressive form this season. He hasn’t added to his 31 career ranking titles, but he showed amazing consistency in reaching the final of the Northern Ireland Open, British Open, Scottish Open and Tour Championship.
Higgins led 11-5 on the night and won the first frame after a black switch.
Saengkham retired the next frame with a break of 70, before getting as close to a high of 147. He pocketed the first 14 red and black, but missed the final red on the mat.
A break of 90 in the next game confirmed victory for Higgins, who faces either Jack Lisowski or Neil Robertson in Tuesday’s quarterfinals.
Stuart Bingham, the 2015 world champion, is also through to the quarterfinals after beating Kyren Wilson 13-9.
The 45-year-old from Essex is up against Judd Trump or Anthony McGill and is happy for others to hog the spotlight.
“I’m fine with going unnoticed and just letting it happen,” Bingham said.
“Ronnie is always one of the guys to beat, John Higgins is playing well, Judd is back in form, Neil (Robertson) is the man of the season, Mark Williams is playing amazing stuff. Every year is difficult, no matter who you play against.
“It’s getting harder and harder because the Class of ’92 is still there and not relaxing,” the world number 12 added.
The first two quarter-finals on Tuesday morning see O’Sullivan open against Stephen Maguire, while Williams takes on Sheffield’s Yan Bingtao.
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This notice was published: 2022-04-25 16:43:14