English defending champion Mark Selby edged 9-7 ahead of China's Ding Junhui in an intriguing World Championship semi-final.
Selby has already won four ranking event titles in a lucrative season - including the United Kingdom and International Championships - and would equal the record of five in a single campaign now held by Hendry and Ding Junhui if he can reign supreme in Sheffield again over the coming two days.
Higgins - victor when these players met in the 2007 decider - benefited from an early finish in his last-four match against Barry Hawkins, needing only one frame of the final session to wrap up the win on Saturday, and his 141 break was completed with the composure of a man who has won all but one of his five final appearances in Sheffield.
Selby, who won the champion in 2014 and 2016, will now face John Higgins over 35 frames on Sunday and Monday for the famous trophy and 375,000-pound top prize.
Granite, absolute granite matchplay snooker from Mark Selby.
The pair met in the 2007 world final, with Higgins winning 18-13 against a 23-year-old Selby who unexpectedly came all the way through from the qualifying event.
Such sessions from world No. 1 Selby are rare, and for Higgins it was important he took full advantage, so by edging frame eight it struck a major blow, ahead of the evening resumption.
A missed red to the middle opened up the table for Selby in frame three and he scored 62 before missing a straightforward pot.
"If I play anything like I did against Stephen, no disrespect to him he played terribly as well, then I will get my bum smacked by John", he said. "That's a big moment during the game and obviously for me it's worked out well".
"He was desperately unlucky", Higgins said. He s a special player. "He doesn't lose any frames in a match". The match finished at nearly 1am on the Tuesday morning.
The world No 1 endured an epic battle with the Chinese superstar and eventually took a 17-15 win over 12 hours and 12 minutes.
"There was a point during that match where I felt like just smashing the reds everywhere but that is not me - I was that close to doing it but I thought it was disrespectful to John". I'd have probably come out 12-12 from that session and who knows, it might have been my year then.
"So you need to be able to scrap it out and I've shown in the past I can do that".
"When it goes to one table it just becomes a great arena, it feels like you're miles away from the table".
"Unbelievable", said the commentator as Selby pursed his lips. One of the greats of the game.