Mark Selby wins World Championship title
- Author: Julie Sanders May 05, 2017,
May 05, 2017, 16:30
Mark Selby has won a third World Championship title after beating John Higgins 18-15 in the final in Sheffield. Along with Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry and Ronnie O'Sullivan, he is now one of a select band of four players to retain the title during its fabled 40-year residency at the Crucible Theatre.
Four-time former champion Higgins, who is the oldest finalist since 49-year-old Ray Reardon lost to Alex Higgins in 1982, had predicted before the match began that Selby could one day match a World Championship record.
Selby had trailed 10-4 at one stage during Sunday's play but mounted a terrific comeback to end the day just three frames behind at 10-7.
He won the opening frame of the night to open up a three-frame lead, and any hopes of spectacular Higgins revival - or even a battle long into the night - looked remote.
Indeed so slow was play - no surprise as their previous world championship meeting the 2007 final provided the latest finish in the tournament's history - the last frame was held over for the final session of the best of 35 frames contest. "I was 10-4 down and thinking there was no way I was going to come back from that".
"I still think I can come back here and do well; I wouldn't write myself off yet", he said. I thought, "Just try to pull yourself together and find something, if you're going to go down, go down fighting".
O'Sullivan watched the drama unfold from a television studio, and tweeted: "If you want to win events you need to play like selby". John Higgins moves up to second in the World Rankings, nearly 20 years after his first World title. He's the toughest player I've ever played.
Selby sniffed another chance, but an ambitious red down the cushion failed to drop, and Higgins pounced. It was deemed to have missed, although replays suggest it may have hit, and Higgins went on to win the frame 74-47. Mark Selby, one, then. That might not be the difference but it was a big, big frame, and Mark did what he always does and cleared up under pressure. "I'm still pinching myself I did it".
A fantastic long-range red, cutting the ball into the corner pocket, opened the door for the defending champion in frame 27.
Higgins showed the grit and determination of a champion, as he roused himself with a tremendous gutsy clearance of 88 to close the gap down once again - after Selby left him a chance immediately after the interval.
"I'm delighted to have got to the final".
Selby came out on top after a 45-minute frame, and then reeled off frame-winning breaks of 67, 58 and 72 to edge 13-11 in front.
"He looks as if he could be the challenger to Stephen Hendry's seven, I really believe that because he's just granite, he really is".