Mark Selby crowned World Champion at The Crucible

Mark Selby said he was "pinching himself" after staging one of the sport's greatest comebacks to beat John Higgins 18-15 and claim his third World Championship title.

Only Selby, Steve David, Stephen Hendry and Ronnie O'Sullivan have managed to defend their title at the Crucible - that is some quartet.

"Big congratulations to John, he is a great guy, and one of the all-time greats and it is so great to play him in another final".

Having started the second day of the final, trailing 10-7 to Higgins, Selby took hold of the final in Monday's afternoon session.

The 33-year-old from Leicester led 13-11 coming into the evening, and withstood a late Higgins flourish to get his hands on the trophy.

From 10-4 down, the world No. 1 won 10 of the next 11 frames to take charge against Higgins, a four-time champion from Scotland playing his first final in six years.

"It's unbelievable, really. I can't believe it", Selby said. "I was 10-4 down and thinking there was no way I was going to come back from that".

And it seemed a reality on the opening day of the final but Selby provided a twist, as he marched from 10-4 down to 16-14 up in the best-of-35 encounter. I said I'd just try to make it respectable.

Selby: Do you want to have a look, John?

"I think Mark will add to that, whether it's one, two, three or four", said Higgins.

At the Crucible, Higgins was helpless as Selby showed the match-play snooker qualities which have seen him occupy the world No 1 spot for the last two years.

"He's granite", Higgins said.

On the 40 anniversary of the Crucible hosting the World Championship and a decade on from that last showdown, pre-tournament favourite Selby needed another fightback to gain a measure of revenge over Higgins.

"He's just granite, he really is".

"Every credit to him, he's a fantastic champion". "I gave everything. I came up short to a great champion".

Selby then won three of the evening's opening four frames before the mid-session interval to move within two of victory, but Higgins would not lie down easily, as breaks of 88 and 111 took him to 16-14 before he claimed a third straight frame in freaky circumstances.

Selby sniffed another chance, but an ambitious red down the cushion failed to drop, and Higgins pounced.

Selby roared back as breaks of 67, 58 and 72 moved him ahead, each frame painful for Higgins to endure.

"I still think I could come back here and do well". He did just that to seal victory with breaks of 131 and 75.

"But he's not like Hendry as a player - Hendry couldn't win the tough frames, he'd blow you away".

"I'm delighted to have got to the final, it's a pity I couldn't have gone one step further but I'm proud of myself".

  • Julie Sanders