Welsh Open snooker: John Higgins will face Barry Hawkins in Sunday's final in Cardiff

Snooker

John Higgins beat Gary Wilson 6-2 to set up a Welsh Open final with Barry Hawkins, who had earlier defeated Noppon Saengkham.

The Wizard of Wishaw is aiming to become the first player to win the event five times and to do so he must overcome Hawkins over 17 frames - split across two sessions - in Cardiff on Sunday.

It will be Higgins' 47th ranking of his career which is one more than Ronnie O'Sullivan, who has also won this event four times.

The 42-year-old is looking for his second ranking title of the season having won the Indian Open in September and victory will also see him clinch the 30th of his career.

That would take him within two of O’Sullivan and six behind Stephen Hendry on the all-time list.

The key moment against Wilson, who was appearing in a ranking event semi-final for only the second time in his career, came when Higgins opened up a 4-2 thanks to a fine 99 clearance.

He dominated frame seven before finishing the job with a 106 in the eighth.

Higgins, who won this event in 2000, 2010, 2011 and 201, told www.worldsnooker.com: "I’m just delighted to be through to the final. I was feeling the pressure tonight because I knew it was a good chance to get to the final, I had to play on Gary’s inexperience a bit. It was similar to Barry’s game earlier against Noppon in that you’re expected to win. I’m sure it will be a good final because Barry is hitting the ball well and I’m doing the same.

"In any sport you very rarely get great semi-finals because it’s all about keeping your nerve, getting over the line and trying to get to the final so you can enjoy the occasion. It would be brilliant to win this for a fifth time. I’m proud of myself that I’m still in there battling having played my first final in this event in 1995.

"I know what Barry can do, he knows what I can do and I think we’ll just relax and play the table. Getting to 30 ranking titles will be in the back of my mind. I just hope I do myself justice tomorrow and make it a good occasion."

Earlier, Hawkins claimed a 6-4 win over world number 58 Noppon Saengkham and he's now targeting his fourth career ranking title and first since the 2017 World Grand Prix.

The past year has been a tough one for Hawkins on and off the table, following the death of his brother-in-law.

He said: "Last April I had a belated birthday party with the family after the World Championship. For the previous six months my sister’s husband had been suffering from depression. We all thought he was getting back to normal.

"That evening he was dropped at home by my dad. Sadly he took his own life. He felt like there was no way out for him. We didn’t see it coming at all. I was with him for an hour while the paramedics were working on him. I have never experienced anything like that and I wouldn’t want to go through it again. It absolutely destroyed me for about six months.

"I played snooker but I really wasn’t thinking about the game, my mind was elsewhere. It was very tough for my family and especially my sister and her two twins, who are eight years old now. It was devastating, so snooker had to take a back seat. In the last few months I have been trying to find my form again. I feel better about myself and we’re moving on.  We’ll never forget what happened but at least we are dealing with it now."

SATURDAY MARCH 3
Afternoon session (1300 GMT)
First round (Best of 7 frames)
TV Coverage: Eurosport 1/BBC Wales

  • Barry Hawkins 6-4 Noppon Saengkham (SF 1)

Evening session (1900 GMT)
First round (Best of 7 frames)
TV Coverage: Eurosport 1/BBC Wales

  • John Higgins 6-2 Gary Wilson (SF 2)

SUNDAY MARCH 4
Afternoon session (1300 GMT)
Final (Best of 17 frames - 8 in this session)
TV Coverage: Eurosport 1/BBC Wales

  • Barry Hawkins v John Higgins

Evening session (1900 GMT)
Final - To A Finish (Best of 17 frames)
TV Coverage: Eurosport 1/BBC Wales

  • Barry Hawkins v John Higgins

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