Selby downs Ding in cliffhanger

New Straits Times - - Sport -

SH­EFFIELD: Mark Selby is just one match away from win­ning his third World Cham­pi­onship ti­tle in four years af­ter see­ing off China’s Ding Jun­hui 17-15 in the semi-fi­nals at Sh­effield’s Cru­cible The­atre on Satur­day.

The English­man beat Ding in last year’s fi­nal and the pair were all square at 12-12 head­ing into the con­clud­ing ses­sion of their last-four clash.

But it is Selby, one of the tough­est com­peti­tors in the game, who will face Scot­land’s four-time world cham­pion John Hig­gins in the fi­nal.

The match will be a re­peat of their 2007 Cru­cible ti­tle-de­cider, which Hig­gins won 18-13.

Selby pulled clear of Ding with breaks of 74 and 96 and went 1613 in front in front.

But Ding ral­lied be­fore a missed blue gave Selby a chance to make a match-clinch­ing 72 and leave Asia still search­ing for its first snooker world cham­pion.

“When I had my chance there I was tak­ing a lit­tle bit longer over my shots than I nor­mally would but I knew if I didn’t win the frame at that visit it would have got away from me,” Selby told the BBC.

For Ding, whose 13 cen­turies this tour­na­ment are the most by a player at a World Cham­pi­onship not to reach the fi­nal, the frus­tra­tion at miss­ing out on the chance to win snooker’s big­gest prize was clear.

“I’m dis­ap­pointed to have lost when I played so well but that is sport,” said Ding.

“Be­fore I missed the blue in the last frame I thought I was go­ing to level at 16-all, but sadly that didn’t hap­pen.

“How­ever I have im­proved and have been a lot more con­fi­dent and ag­gres­sive here so that is good,” added Ding, who in the quar­ter-fi­nals beat five-time world cham­pion Ron­nie O’Sul­li­van.

Hig­gins, who re­sumed just one frame away from vic­tory against Barry Hawkins, wasted lit­tle time in de­feat­ing the English­man by mak­ing a break of 120 in their first frame back for a com­fort­able 17-8 vic­tory.

At 41, Hig­gins is the old­est World Cham­pi­onship fi­nal­ist since the then 49-year-old Ray Rear­don was beaten by Alex Hig­gins in the 1982 show­piece match. AFP


China’s Ding Jun­hui watches from his seat dur­ing the World Cham­pi­onship semi-fi­nal match against Eng­land’s Mark Selby on Fri­day.

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