John Higgins has set his sights on winning another two world titles after joining the small band of players to have triumphed three times.
The 33-year-old Scot beat Shaun Murphy 18-9 in a one-sided final of the Betfred.com World Championship last night.
Only Stephen Hendry, Steve Davis and Ray Reardon have won more than three titles in the modern era, which began in 1969 when the World Championship became a knock-out event, while Higgins stands level with Ronnie O’Sullivan and John Spencer.
Higgins clinched his victory over an under-par Murphy with a slick break of 73.
He relished his time at the Crucible, and came through some difficult matches on the way to the final.
“Playing at that level I can win one or two,” he said.
“I don’t think I’m going to decline rapidly in the next two or three years. They’ll be my best opportunities.
“These are going to be important years for me.”
Higgins came from 12-10 behind to beat Jamie Cope 13-12 in the second round, and from 12-11 down to defeat Mark Selby 13-12 in the quarter-finals, before fending off a determined fightback from Mark Allen in the semi-finals.
“I’ve beaten four people who in the next two or three years could be the top four players in the world,” Higgins said. “That’s how highly I rate them.”
During the match against Cope, the pair had to return to their dressing rooms with the score at 12-12 after a spectator collapsed.
Higgins returned to pot a long red and embark on the break which carried him to victory.
“That could just have been the turning point of the whole championship,” Higgins said.
“I went back to my dressing room and knew I was left with a certain shot.
“I had a good look at the red and knew it was a really tough one. And that was the red which probably won me this championship.
“That probably gave me that bit of belief that I could go on and win it.”
He celebrated last night with wife Denise, the driving force behind his career.
“You can get a bit selfish, a bit lazy and a bit down on yourself, thinking you’re never going to win another thing,” Higgins said.
“It’s up to the wives, that are basically kicking your backside and telling you that you are good enough, you’ve done it before, so how can you not go on and do it again?”
Murphy, the 2005 champion, admitted defeat was hard to accept.
He said: “All the great names – every single one of them – have played in a final and been beaten here.
“So I now know how they felt, and if it inspired them to go and be better players then it will inspire me to go on and be better.
“It’s been a really fun event for me. It’s a 17-day tournament and 15-and-a-half of those days have been fantastic for me.
“The last day-and-a-half has been not that great and it’s something I hope to forget.”