Both players had a series of tough matches to come through to reach this final, John Higgins and Mark Williams were gunning for their third UK title of their careers, it was going to be a good one and they definitely didn't disappoint tonight.
After the afternoon session Mark Williams had stormed ahead to a commanding 6-2 advantage. Mark had been pulling off some cracking long and mid range pots to achieve that score-line and had completely shrugged off any bad play that he had produced in his previous matches against Stephen Hendry or Shaun Murphy. John had looked out of sorts this afternoon, allowing Mark to dominate proceedings and he had a long way to go in the evening.
John seemed to continue to struggle during the first half of the final session, missing a lot of balls whilst in and not doing very well with his safety. Mark continued to dominate and seemed to be prepared to win in style at 9-5 up but John is a fighter and wasn't going down lightly. He grabbed the next few frames in dribs and drabs but stole the 18th frame with a classy break of 52 to take the match to a 9-9 final frame decider, who would have the nerves to clinch it?
The final frame started off with a small bout of safety between the two top players until John left Mark a tricky red near the black into the middle pocket. Mark got it but could only produce a break of 13 before he misjudged the speed of the cueball after potting the brown which left him snookered on his intended red, he then missed the nearby trickier red to let John back in, he had gotten his chance! Higgins then made a spectacular 66 break under the highest imaginable pressure but missed the penultimate frame-clinching red because of a kick and he let Mark back in. All of a sudden Mark had a chance to clear the colours but a misjudged cannon put the brown safe and a safety battle ensued which eventually left Higgins with the shot pictured below.
Ken Doherty and Dennis Taylor both thought he was going to play a safety as was per the normal, but John had other things planned. He took the double on from top to bottom and it went into the heart of the bottom left pocket clean, which means he only needed the blue to take the UK championship title. He was then faced with the blue pictured below, surely he couldn't pot this difficult blue with his hand on the cushion and with the amount of pressure weighing down on him?
But nope he managed to do it, pot the blue clean and he had won the 12BET.com UK Championship 10-9 after being 9-5 down and looking completely out of it at one point. He then finished the match with an amazing pot on the pink tight on the side cushion. The Wizard of Wishaw is back and in the greatest style possible!
After winning the Welsh Open earlier on in the year everything was looking on the up for John Higgins, he had appeared in something like 5 consecutive semi-finals and was looking unstoppable, sitting high and pretty in the World No.1 seat. But after loosing to Steve Davis 13-11 in the second round of the Betfred.com World Championship he took a trip to Ukraine with his manage Pat Mooney that he would never forget in a hurry. After failing to report being approached by the supposed "Russian Gangsters", Higgins was suspended and it looked like it was all over for John, all that he worked for could have been over quicker than you can say "vodka".
Thankfully though for John he was found not guilty after the results of a tribunal, the findings said that he showed genuine remorse for his actions but he would still have to pay a hefty fine and stay suspended up until the start of November. John had been given a second chance in the game that he loves so much, but no one would have expected what would occur in the weeks following his ban being lifted.
His first tournament back was a European Players Tour Championship (EPTC) event in Hamm, Germany, where he would come back face to face with all his snooker comrades. The reception he was given was a warm one and he felt right back at home but he still wanted to prove himself on the table. He won his first match against Joe Jogia with relative ease and then went on to win the tournament by beating EPTC winner Shaun Murphy 4-2 in the final. John was back and playing like a dream! Those months away might of affected him as a person but not his game on a snooker table.
He would then go on to contest the next EPTC final in Prague against Michael Holt but narrowly missed out on a second, consecutive EPTC win 4-3. It didn't matter too much to John though as he was looking in excellent shape in the run up to the game's second biggest event on the calender, the UK Championship.
John didn't have an easy ride in Telford though, he had to come up against top professionals; Stephen Lee, Graeme Dott, Stephen Maguire and Mark Allen to win the final against Mark Williams. He receives the grand prize of £100,000, the trophy and the title of 12BET.com UK Champion. Another bonus for him is that he returns back to the World No.1 spot, displacing Neil Robertson who had only been there for 6 months (thus the nature of the new rolling, ranking system!). He will now be hoping to go to Wembley next month to capture The Masters trophy for the first time since 2006. Mark Williams will also be looking forward to Wembley as he has been playing some amazing snooker this past year, it should be another amazing tournament, can't wait!
(All images courtesy of BBC sport and World Snooker, 2010)