England ace Mark Selby will defend his world championship snooker title against a man he rates "one of the greats of the game" - Scotland's four-time world champion John Higgins.
"If he wins another one he'll be equalling O'Sullivan, trying to create a bit of history himself". Mark Selby won 17-15 and advanced to the final. I'm happy with how I did this time. "I could not make any mistakes, but that is what happened".
Higgins had started the second mini-session really well, winning the first frame to ensure that he would have a lead overnight before producing an outrageous plant to open up a six frame lead.
Higgins is tied on 28 with Ronnie O'Sullivan and Steve Davis, eight adrift of Hendry, while world number one Selby has catching up to do after landing 11 so far.
The British champion said his reaction was "more relief than anything else".
"This year he knew what to expect on the one table set up and I thought he played fantastic".
"The good thing is I know what I've got to do".
Higgins is in supreme form and has showed signs he is getting back to the levels he reached when winning the title for a fourth time in 2011, although Hawkins says he thrives when the going gets tough.
"The adrenaline was pumping and I can not wait for the final".
Higgins twice missed opportunities in the third but they were only chances to stay in the frame, with Selby already leading the way following a break of 62.
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However, if there's one cueist who can match Selby in the safety stakes it's Higgins, with both players shaped from a similar mould of playing style.
"The tip I had on before was more or less fine and it made a rock-hard sound".
The 33-year-old from Leicester accepts he can not turn on the style all the time, even though his quarter-final annihilation of Marco Fu's title hopes showed Selby has plenty in reserve.
"He was desperately unlucky", Higgins said.
There was no doubt Hawkins was off his game, and he said: "I think I dragged John down in the end".
"I struggled from the off and could not get any momentum going".
"I'm disappointed to lose when I played well, but sometimes you have to take it, because it is sport".
Ding's reaction to bowing out to Selby was obvious frustration, given his impressive performance over the last fortnight and the fact he lost to the same opponent in last year's final.
"I will be back next year".
Higgins was, however, quietly confident of his own chances, saying: "I m very proud to be in my sixth world final, and it s a great feeling to be going for my fifth world title".