Sunday 17 December 2017

King of Crucible Selby makes it two titles in one night for Leicester


Mark Selby won his second World title of his career. Photo: Gareth Copley/Getty Images
Mark Selby won his second World title of his career. Photo: Gareth Copley/Getty Images newsdesk

Mark Selby swept to Crucible glory and gave Leicester a second trophy of the night to toast as he fended off Ding Junhui in the World Championship final.

As parties erupted following Leicester City's Premier League triumph, another was about to begin 70 miles up the M1 as Foxes fan Selby powered to an 18-14 triumph.

Selby pointed at smiling wife Vikki in the crowd as he crossed the winning line, joy and satisfaction detailed across his face. She and daughter Sofia joined him amid ticker-tape trophy celebrations.

"It's fantastic. I'm just really happy to win," Selby said. "I saved my best performance for the final."

The 6-0 lead that Selby established on Sunday was whittled down by determined Ding, who was determined not to squander his big chance, but ultimately he could not overhaul the World No 1.

China's first finalist in snooker's premier tournament clawed his way back to 10-9 and 11-10 during yesterday afternoon, but going level proved beyond him each time.

Selby led from start to finish and was a worthy champion, collecting snooker's biggest ever prize cheque of £330,000 to go with the silverware.

It was Ronnie O'Sullivan that Selby saw off in 2014, when he staged a terrific second-day fightback to scoop the title. This time Selby was in charge and had to deal with that very different pressure, beginning the day 10-7 in front of a player whose dip in form over the past year meant he had to negotiate the qualifying rounds.

Ding had tens of millions watching him on television in Asia, where he is just as revered as O'Sullivan.

And at times during the contest he rolled back time to when he was the world's No 1 player, making three century breaks - strangely 103 each time.

After Ding's early nibble at his lead yesterday, Selby began to fire. He had breaks of 126, 52, 68 and 55 in pulling 14-11 clear heading into the evening.

It was clear how much it mattered to him too. He swished his cue in anger at one point after missing a testing pink.

And the contest looked to be in its final throes once Selby took the opening two frames on the resumption.

Not so. Runs of 73, 70 and the third 103 of the match revived Ding's prospects.

Despite living in the Steel City for the last 10 years, the Crucible is a venue for which Ding has shown little love in the past.

He was longing to have his name engraved on the trophy this time though, but Selby was not going to yield. He battled through one scrappy frame with an iron will and then clinched victory rather more stylishly with a 74 break.

• World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn announced the Crucible will keep the World Championship for the next 10 years.

Irish Independent

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