CINDERELLA Man Andrew Higginson hopes the fairytale will continue after his rags-to-riches success in the Welsh Open.

The Widnes 29-year-old earned the nickname as only the third unranked player in snooker history to make the final of a ranking event.

He was within a whisker of emulating Terry Griffiths, who won the 1979 World Championship from outside the top bracket.

A 500-1 outsider at Newport, Higginson stormed back from 6-2 down to lead 8-6 only for Australia's Neil Robertson to snatch the last three frames.

It was a dramatic finish to what, for Higginson, was an unbelievable week.

Earlier, he had scored a 147 break on 'live' television - a feat the professional of 12 years had only achieved in practice.

It all added up to the biggest pay day of his career with Higginson pocketing £20,000 for the maximum, an extra £2,000 for the championship's highest break and £17,500 as its runner-up.

Higginson admitted pressure had eventually taken its toll after his fantastic fightback but now hopes his efforts will be a springboard to further glory.

He said: 'The highs outweigh the lows by about a million to one.

'If it never happens again or it happens every time, I will look back on it for the rest of my life.'

After giving himself two days off, Higginson was back in training yesterday to prepare for his next test.

Qualifying for the World Championships is at Pontin's, Prestatyn, from tomorrow to March 2.

He said: 'History proves that when somebody does well in a competition, they are riding that much of a high that it is hard to come back down to earth.

'I'd like to think I haven't left earth but at the same time, I can still feel a buzz.'

The player again paid tribute to parents Val and Dave Higginson and girlfriend Tina for their continued backing and also sponsor Paul Antrobus, from Widnesbased Digital Services UK, who he says has made it all possible.

Higginson obtained one-off waistcoat sponsorship for the final throes of the tournament. Now seeking a permanent deal, he is asking interested firms to contact him via Weekly News Sport.

The man from West Bank was also over-whelmed by the messages of support he has received from the local community and Widnes in general.

He said: 'I have made 10 or 12 maximum breaks in practice but to do so in front of so many people and in only my third match on TV against one of the top-16 players (Ali Carter), in the quarter-final of a ranking tournament was absolute insanity.

'I was trembling so much afterwards, I had to get up and leave the arena to regain my composure.'

After clinching his second major title of the campaign, Robertson, 25, paid tribute to Higginson and his earlier comeback.

'It was absolutely amazing - I have never seen anything like it before.

'He is easily top 16 or top eight the way he performed,' said the Melbourne Machine, provisional world number seven after his victory.

Higginson, not even in the top 110 at the start of the season, has climbed to 40 in the provisional rankings.