SELBY JOINS ELITE CLUB

World No 1 com­pletes re­mark­able come­back to claim third Cru­cible ti­tle

New Straits Times - - Sport -

SH­EFFIELD

ENG­LAND’S Mark Selby pro­duced a mag­nif­i­cent come­back to beat John Hig­gins 18-15 in the fi­nal of the world snooker cham­pi­onship at Sh­effield’s Cru­cible Theatre on Mon­day and win the global crown for the third time.

The de­fend­ing cham­pion from Le­ices­ter had found him­self 10-4 down at one point on Sun­day af­ter an un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally poor day at the ta­ble and was star­ing at de­feat in the 35-frame show­piece against Scot­land’s four­time win­ner Hig­gins.

Yet a su­perb per­for­mance on the sec­ond day il­lus­trated why 33-year-old World No 1 Selby has be­come recog­nised as one of the finest match play­ers the game has seen as he bat­tled back to dom­i­nate and record his third win in four years.

He be­came only the fourth player af­ter Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry and Ron­nie O’Sul­li­van to win back-to-back ti­tles since the event was first held at The Cru­cible in 1977 as he col­lected a record £375,000 (RM2.06 mil­lion) win­ner’s cheque.

An epic fi­nal had its ma­jor mo­ment of con­tro­versy in the 31st frame when Selby, lead­ing 16-14, was pe­nalised af­ter ref­eree Jan Ver­haas judged that he had failed to roll the cue ball up against the black when play­ing for a snooker.

Selby felt he had hit the black but went on to lose the frame which cut his lead to one frame.

He showed re­mark­able com­po­sure to put the dis­ap­point­ment be­hind him and com­piled a su­perb break of 131 in the next frame to leave him one away from suc­cess­fully de­fend­ing his ti­tle.

Selby then wrapped up vic­tory with another nerve­less break of 75.

“I can’t be­lieve it, I am still pinch­ing my­self now,” Selby told the crowd af­ter­wards. “To have three world ti­tles is un­be­liev­able and to be one of only four play­ers to de­fend the ti­tle (at the Cru­cible) is some­thing I could only dream of.”

He felt the key to his vic­tory had been the last three frames on Sun­day which he won when he was 10-4 down and strug­gling badly.

“From 10-4 down to get to 10-7 yes­ter­day, I was over the moon as I had noth­ing left. He out­played me yes­ter­day. To­day, I came back fresh and was a lot bet­ter,” added Selby.

“When I was 10-4 down I was miss­ing ev­ery­thing and had noth­ing left. I said, ‘Pull some­thing to­gether. If you lose, you want to at least go down fight­ing.’“

The 41-year-old Hig­gins, de­scribed by Selby as “one of the all-time greats“, was equally com­pli­men­tary about his op­po­nent.

“Mark is gran­ite, just gran­ite,” said the Scot. “I gave ev­ery­thing. I came up short to a great cham­pion. I’m proud of my­self but he was too good on the day.” Reuters

AFP PPIC

Mark Selby (left) has be­come only the fourth player to re­tain the ti­tle af­ter beat­ing John Hig­gins 18-15 on Mon­day.

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