Selby sees off Ding to seal place in fi­nal

The Dominion Post - - Sport - SNOOKER

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.

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