John Higgins said it would be "amazing" to match Ronnie O'Sullivan's haul of five Crucible titles after powering through to the World Championship final.

Only Stephen Hendry and Steve Davis have lifted the trophy more times at the Sheffield theatre than O'Sullivan, who fell in the second round this year.

But Higgins is just one behind long-time rival O'Sullivan and fended off Kyren Wilson 17-13 on Saturday to book a seventh appearance in the tournament's two-day showpiece match.

Only O'Sullivan in 2001 and Mark Selby last year have denied Higgins at the last hurdle. Barry Hawkins and Mark Williams were battled it out on Saturday evening with the Welshman coming through in a 17-15 thriller. 

Now aged 42, Higgins first won this title in 1998 and there have been ups and downs on and off the table since then.

He came through a slump in his mid-thirties when he was convinced his days as a major title contender were over. But rather than being over the hill, Higgins is scaling mountains again and 26-year-old Wilson could not reel in the canny Scot.

Higgins said: "He just couldn't get level with me but as I said to him after, he reminds me so much of Selby when I played him in the 2007 final.

"I'm sure he'll do big, big things here in the future."

Asked if he feels like the favourite to carry off the title, Higgins said: "No. I know it's going to be another mammoth final. It'll be a great match I'm sure.

"I keep using the word 'proud'. I'm proud 20 years later, after I won my first one, that I'm sitting here ready to compete in another one. It's a fantastic feeling."

Higgins was 10-4 ahead against Selby yet lost in their second Crucible final meeting 12 months ago, and said on Saturday: "I felt that was probably my best ever chance to win it (for a fifth time).

"It might still be my best ever chance. I don't know how the next game's going to transpire."

If he does match O'Sullivan's five titles, an emotional Higgins said it would be particularly special.

"Of course it would, it would be amazing. He's the best player ever in my eyes and if I got to the same amount of world titles it would be an amazing feeling," Higgins said.

After taking the first frame of Saturday's afternoon session with a classy 96 break to edge closer at 13-12 behind, Wilson twice took on and missed with extravagant shots, including a kamikaze plant, as he attempted to get back on level terms. Higgins was merciless.

Wilson admitted afterwards he felt compelled to go on the attack, despite the risks.

He praised Higgins and was pleased enough with his own display, saying: "He's such a great hard match player but I felt like I matched him. It was just the odd frame." 

More to follow...