Selby sees off Ding to seal place in final
England ace Mark Selby will defend his world championship snooker title against a man he rates ‘‘one of the greats of the game’’ – Scotland’s four-time world champion John Higgins.
Selby, 33, qualified for his third final in four years by beating China’s Ding Junhui 17-15 at The Crucible in Sheffield yesterday.
Higgins reached the final after beating England’s Barry Hawkins 17-8.
Selby, once dubbed the Jester from Leicester, is dead serious about retaining his crown after world title wins in 2014 and 2016.
‘‘I can’t wait. It’s going to be a fantastic occasion,’’ Selby told The Guardian. ‘‘He’s a great player. One of the greats of the game. It’s going to be another tough match. If he wins another one he’ll be equalling [Ronnie] O’Sullivan, trying to create a bit of history himself.’’
The pair met in the final at The Crucible in 2017 when Higgins won 18-13 to clinch the second of his four titles.
The 41-year-old Scot – the oldest finalist since Ray Reardon, 49, in 1982 – said he needed to ‘‘raise my game’’ to beat Selby.
‘‘The good thing is I know what I’ve got to do. It’s one last massive game for the season and I’ll give it everything and see where it takes me. I feel absolutely fine.
‘‘Ten years ago I’d have been a big favourite to win but obviously Mark’s the favourite this time and I’m the underdog,’’ Higgins told The Guardian.
‘‘I’ll be nervous. As you get older I feel the nerves are harder to suppress. I’m sure I’ll be a bag of nerves before it starts but then I’m sure I’ll settle down and we’ll hopefully give everyone a good final.’’
Selby shouted ‘‘Come on’’ and banged the table as he completed his win over Ding Junhui.
The British champion said his reaction was ‘‘more relief than anything else’’.
Ding let him back into the game when he missed the blue ball and, with it, a chance to go to an extra frame.
Higgins needed one frame in the evening session to wrap up his win over Hawkins with a break of 120.
Mark Selby will put his world title on the line when he takes on four-time champion John Higgins.