Selby beats Higgins in tense late night thriller

Mark Selby. Picture by Monique Limbos

Mark Selby. Picture by Monique Limbos

DEFENDING champion Mark Selby dug deep with his back against the wall to win a thrilling final frame decider against John Higgins.

Selby came back from 5-3 behind to beat the four-times world champion and seal a Masters semi-final clash against Shaun Murphy.

In a tense quarter-final which never at one stage disappointed an enthralled Alexandra Palace crowd, Selby clinched victory with the scores deadlocked at 69-69 with a sensational double on the final blue which allowed him to force a potting position for the decisive pink into the middle pocket.

Selby clinched his fists with delight once the pink went in as his hopes of winning a fourth Masters title strengthened.

But Higgins will rue earlier missed opportunities to put the match to bed before Selby’s late brilliance.

In the penultimate frame Higgins had worked himself into a frame winning position but missed the final brown which allowed Selby the chance to level the match from 5-3 behind.

And in the final frame it was Higgins who had the early advantage but costly messed up his position when trying to get over the winning line and therefore missed a tricky red.

Top breaks of 70 and 98 helped Selby to a 3-1 lead at the end of the first session.

But in typical Higgins style, he battled his way back into the contest as a break of 69 and winning a frame on the final black helped him move in charge of the contest leading 5-3.

A break of 55 quickly halved Selby’s deficit before Higgins’ crucial miss on the final brown to the yellow pocket handed the world number two a huge reprieve and the golden chance to take the match into a decider.

Friday’s quarter-finals see reigning world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan face Ricky Walden (1.15pm) and world number one Neil Robertson takes on Stephen Maguire (7pm).

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