Snooker: Champion Selby storms back to lead Higgins
- Author: Leroy Wright May 02, 2017,
May 02, 2017, 17:24
When he trailed John Higgins by 10-4 on Sunday evening, Selby had looked beaten, on the scoreboard and in his cheerless demeanour, but a colossal comeback saw him roll to an 18-15 victory barely 24 hours later.
Trailing 10-4, it looked terminal, but somehow he raised his game, breaks of 81 and 121 helping to cut the deficit to 10-7 overnight.
Although Higgins briefly had the upper hand in the next frame all it needed was one error and Selby took full advantage to seal victory with a break of 75.
"To be one of only four players to defend it is something I could only dream of". Building on this, the Scottish player established a commanding 6-2 lead at the end of the first session.
Higgins stopped the rot in the second frame of the final session but Selby was soon back in control as he closed to within two of the winning line.
"I missed the chance, I missed the boat in frame 12, the pink into the middle bag to go 9-3 in front", he asserted.
Selby prevailed in another exhausting frame to level at 11-11, and having not led since claiming the opening frame on Sunday morning, the reigning champion then overtook Higgins thanks to a break of 58.
Verhaas chose to stick with his original decision, one that ultimately cost Selby the frame.
At 10-4, the history books were being reached for, before Selby took the final three frames of the evening to keep his title hopes alive.
Blessed with a terrific temperament, Selby knew once he had narrowed the gap to Higgins that the momentum was with him. John Higgins, seven. Free ball.
"If he goes ahead and beats me, it d be his third and he s still a young man". "Mark's more like Steve Davis". Such remarks were probably created to lift pressure from his own shoulders, with Higgins quietly confident he stood an outstanding chance of lifting the trophy tonight.
Verhaas: No, if they say it hit then it's fine with me.
The pair met in the 2007 world final, with Higgins winning 18-13 against a 23-year-old Selby who unexpectedly came all the way through from the qualifying event. Today I came back fresh and was a lot better.
"He s proven that, and now he s going for his third one and he s going to maybe be emulating Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry by retaining it. He's a special player". I was just taking one frame at a time. The match finished at nearly 1am on the Tuesday morning.
"It's unbelievable, I can't believe it, I'm really still pinching myself", Selby said. "That was the big, big ball and I missed it". I came up short to a great champion.
"I think I was trying too hard, and the harder I tried the worse it got". He secured it at the first time of asking, clenching both fists and looking to his family and friends in the gallery following the pot that put the frame beyond Higgins and the victor into the pantheon of snooker greats.
Selby said: "It's unbelievable really".