Selby downs Ding in cliffhanger
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.