John Higgins believes remaining grounded in victory or defeat is the best way to prolong his illustrious career as he aims to become a five-time world champion.

The 41-year-old Scot is playing in the semi-finals of the Betfred World Championship for the first time since he last lifted the trophy in 2011.

He leads 5-3 following the opening session of his last-four meeting with Barry Hawkins at the Crucible, while China's Ding Junhui holds the same advantage over defending champion Mark Selby in the other match.

Speaking about how he keeps himself mentally prepared for the strains of professional snooker, the world number six said: "It's been just about not getting too high when you win and not getting too low when you lose.

"It's been that way through a lot of my life.

"I won a few tournaments before Christmas and it was a great high but I knew there was going to be a low, and the low was that I got knocked out in the first round of the next four or five tournaments.

"I just kept myself pretty upbeat coming here, hoping I would have a run, and touch wood I'm having that."
Higgins, who was also crowned world champion in 1998, 2007 and 2009, is hoping to secure his 29th ranking title in Sheffield.

He will perhaps be disappointed not to be further ahead against Hawkins after racing into a four-frame lead while his opponent struggled to settle.

Nevertheless, he remains in a strong position to progress to the final and he insists he has no plans to hang up his cue while he continues to be in contention for trophies.

Higgins, who is two years younger than compatriot Stephen Hendry was when he retired in 2012, added: "If I'm winning tournaments, why would I retire?

"Stephen was different, I don't think he won a tournament in the last seven or eight years when he was playing so that must have been difficult for him, but if I know I'm still winning tournaments there's no reason for me to retire.

"But this year I have been pretty despondent after losing because I feel my game is back where I can compete to win events. Two or three years ago, if I lost...I'd be losing from now on, that was what I was thinking."

World number one Selby and Ding will be back on the baize first on Friday following an enthralling start to their best-of-33 meeting, before Higgins attempts to extend his lead over Hawkins in the afternoon.