Higgins Closes In On Snooker Top Ranking

John Higgins looks likely to be the official World No 1 next season following his victory  in snooker's totesport.com Welsh Open.

The Wizard of Wishaw beat Ali Carter 9-4 in the final in Newport tonight (Sunday) to win his first ranking title of the season and 21st of his career. Higgins now leads Ronnie O'Sullivan by 9505 points in the provisional list, and is in prime position to take over as official No 1 from the Rocket at the end of the season.

The 34-year-old Scot can guarantee the No 1 slot for 2010/11 by matching O'Sullivan's performance at March's China Open.

"China will be a big tournament because it could still be close, although Ronnie will probably have to win that to get back into the race," said Higgins. "It would be good to have it sewn up before Sheffield.”

Carter came within a match of defending the Welsh Open title he won last year; his only ranking title to date. He moves up one place in the latest list to fourth, just behind Neil Robertson.

Stephen Maguire climbs from seventh to fifth after losing to Carter in the semi-finals. O'Sullivan lost to Higgins in the other semi.

Mark Allen is the biggest mover among the losing quarter-finalists, climbing three spots to 12th. Mark Selby is up two to 11th while Mark Williams edges up one place to ninth and Ryan Day stays in eighth position.

Andrew Higginson, a Welsh Open finalist in 2007, enjoyed a fine run to the last 16 and jumps three places to 32nd.

Crowd favourite Tony Drago won four qualifying matches to reach the last 32, and leaps nine spots to 56th, while China's Liu Song came through three rounds to qualify and also rises nine places to 80th.