World Championship: Snooker’s ‘Three Mexicanos’ still fighting hard at Crucible

Ronnie O’Sullivan likened the ‘Class of 92’ trio as ‘the three Mexicanos’ after again delivering knockout punches at the Betfred World Championship.

First O’Sullivan floored Stephen Maguire 13-5 with a barrage of relentless body blows, before Mark Williams – who along with John Higgins make up the famous ‘Class of 92’ gang – came off the ropes to beat Yan Bingtao.

The 47-year-old Welshman battled back from 10-8 down to beat Yan 13-11 and become the oldest player to reach the single table stage – the semi-finals – at the Crucible for 37 years.

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For Higgins, his bout with Jack Lisowski went the distance – and settled on points in a late-night finish – as the Scot won the last two frames to clinch a 13-12 victory.

John Higgins in action against Jack Lisowski in their World Championship quarter-final in Sheffield. Picture: PAJohn Higgins in action against Jack Lisowski in their World Championship quarter-final in Sheffield. Picture: PA
John Higgins in action against Jack Lisowski in their World Championship quarter-final in Sheffield. Picture: PA

It is the first time the ‘Class of 92’ trio have all reached the semi-finals in the same year since 1999. They have dominated the snooker scene for the last three decades, and O’Sullivan has his own ideas to why they have lasted so long.

“There are a lot of fantastic young players, but the three of us have been doing it for so long, we are all turning 47 this year,” said six-time world champion O’Sullivan, who plays Higgins in Thursday’s second semi-final.

“Williams and Higgins – they have little subtleties in their game.

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“It’s a bit like the Mexican boxers – we were brought up in a tough school. The British fighters are comfortable here, then you throw them into the Mexican or American market and they are not so good.

“We were brought up playing hard matchplay in lots of tournaments and we were dedicated to our sport. That stood us in good stead.

“The Mexican boxers are hardened people who can grind it out. We are the three Mexicanos!”

O’Sullivan has yet to be seriously tested at the Crucible this year, after beating David Gilbert 10-5, Mark Allen 13-4 and then the one-sided match with Maguire.

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Resuming overnight with an 11-5 lead, O’Sullivan needed just 19 minutes to secure a record 13th semi-final – one ahead of snooker legend Stephen Hendry – making breaks of 71 and 126.

“I just played the balls, played the table and tried to be as competitive as I could,” said O’Sullivan.

“I’m pleased to still be in the tournament down to the one table set up. I appreciate every moment I get to go out there and play.”

Williams plays Judd Trump – who battled back to beat Stuart Bingham 13-8 last night, after originally trailing 8-5 – in Thursday’s first semi-final.

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He is the oldest player to appear in the last four since 52-year-old Ray Reardon, who lost to Steve Davis in 1985.

Williams also had to come from behind against Sheffield-based Yan – playing his first quarter-final in his adopted hometown – turning a 10-8 deficit into a 13-11 win.

“This is where the tournament becomes the best venue in the world for me,” said the Welshman. “I have always said that the one table set-up is something everyone must try and play once in their career.

“I am just so happy to get to the semi-finals. I am here 30 years on after turning pro and still trying my best.

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“At the minute I am playing some of the best stuff I have ever played. I am scoring as well as I have ever scored.”

Yan added: ‘’It was a very close game. I was nervous because I was so close to my first Crucible one table match.

“Yesterday morning I lost my concentration and went 6-2 behind, then brought it back to 8-8 in the evening session. I believe in myself, I can do anything.’’

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