Sluggish start for Higgins

John Higgins hauled himself level at the mid-session interval of an arduous battle with Rory McLeod at the Betfred.com World Championship.

John Higgins hauled himself level at the mid-session interval of an arduous battle with Rory McLeod at the Betfred.com World Championship.

Outsider McLeod knocked out seed Ricky Walden in the first round, after which he faced criticism from his opponent over slow play.

Title favourite Higgins looked to stay out of the row, stressing he would be able to dictate the pace against McLeod.

However, the play was sluggish as they began their three-session battle today, and it was certainly not only McLeod to blame as the opening four frames of their second-round match dragged on for over two hours.

McLeod opened a surprise 2-0 lead, as the form Higgins showed in his opening win over Stephen Lee deserted him. But back came the champion of 1998, 2007 and 2009 to crawl back to 2-2, aided by a break of 73 in the third frame.

Ding Junhui, on the other table, was in early trouble against Peter Ebdon’s conqueror Stuart Bingham.

The Chinese cueman fell 3-0 behind against his English opponent, before pulling back to 3-2 with breaks of 67 and 74.

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