Mark Selby overturns odds to take snooker world championship
After dramatic comeback at the Sheffield Crucible, Mark Selby dedicates victory to late father
MARK SELBY is snooker’s new world champion after coming from behind to beat Ronnie O’Sullivan 18-14 in a dramatic final day at the Sheffield Crucible.
The 30-year-old from Leicester trailed ten frames to seven on Sunday evening at the end of the first day of the final and O’Sullivan was the overwhelming favourite to close out the contest on Monday and win his sixth world championship.
But Selby, runner-up to John Higgins in 2007, showed great composure to claw his way back into the final. In Monday's first session he won five of the six frames on offer in a gripping battle of attrition that included one frame that lasted fifty minutes.
Despite his greater experience in championship finals it was O’Sullivan – who had never before lost a World final – who began to be betrayed by his nerves. Needing only a pink to wrap up the final frame of the session, the 38-year-old Essex man went for pace and missed the pot, allowing Selby the chance to clear up.
O’Sullivan refocused during the interval that followed, winning the first frame after the restart with a break of 100 (his third century of the match) to level the scores at 12 frames apiece. Selby took the three frames that followed to put him 15-12 up at the mid-session interval but O’Sullivan showed his class at the resumption. Winning the next two frames the O’Sullivan narrowed Selby’s lead to 15-14 but the effort only spurred on his opponent to greater heights. A break of 127 - his first century of the match – and one of 87 took Selby to within one frame of victory and O’Sullivan duly cracked when he missed the final red to allow Selby to clinch the world crown, and pick up a cheque for £300,000.
"Every time I got a chance I felt like I was capable of scoring, but on Sunday I was missing balls because of tiredness," explained Selby, who reached the final only after an epic 17-15 victory over Neil Robertson in the semi-final. "But towards the end, when Ronnie came back to 15-14 and asked me the question, I probably played my best snooker of the final in those last three frames. I needed to attack him and I did."
O’Sullivan was generous in defeat, admitting he had no answer to his opponent’s aggression. "I want to congratulate Mark on a fantastic tournament,” said O’Sullivan. “In the end I was numb as he was too strong and tough. Maybe I would have thrown in the towel a few years ago but I tried my hardest. He was too good.”
Selby dedicated his win to his late father, David, who died of cancer in 1999. "My father died when I was 16, two months before I turned professional, and his last words were, 'I want you to become world champion'," Selby said. "I said to him, 'I will do one day'. Thankfully today it's come true." ·