MARK Selby is World Snooker Champion for the first time after a sterling comeback saw him sensationally end Ronnie O’Sullivan’s two-year defence of the world crown.
Selby, who is the new world number one, came back from 10-5 down to land the prestigious trophy and the record high prize of £300,000 in one of the most epic world finals the sport has seen in recent years.
A three-times Masters and multiple ranking event winner, Selby has been knocking on the door for some considerable time but now his time has come after a brilliant clearance under significant pressure saw him close out an 18-14 win against the five-times world champion.
O’Sullivan dominated the opening day of this gripping final but through grit, tenacity and talent Selby produced one of the best comebacks seen in the sport to defeat the man most thought was unbeatable in this year’s Championship.
Truth be told it’s been a tough and frustrating season for Selby after losing in the Masters final and the World Open final but tonight’s win and moment of destiny has certainly made up for that.
Trailing 10-7 overnight, it was vital Selby made a good start against O’Sullivan. And that is what he got as he won the first four frames of the session to turn the match on its head.
O’Sullivan levelled before a remarkable 23rd frame saw O’Sullivan miss a simple frame ball pink which would have put him back in the lead.
The staggering miss to the centre pocket was punished by Selby who went into the evening session 12-11 ahead. His delight clearly evident as he fist pumped his way back into the dressing room before the final climax approached.
O’Sullivan soon made amends from his previous pink disaster as break of 100 put him level at 12-12 to kick off the evening session.
But a determined Selby did not let O’Sullivan’s flair get to his head as he fought with true grit to take the next two frames. A poor safety from O’Sullivan led to Selby making a valuable break of 56 in the next as he went three frames clear going into the mid-session interval.
The small break came at a perfect time for O’Sullivan as he kept his hopes alive after the restart hitting a break of 49 in frame 28 and then closed the gap to a single frame thanks to potting a brilliant yellow down the side rail when the frame was in the balance.
However, Selby produced his best scoring run of the entire match at the best time as a break of 127 restored a two-frame advantage before a run of 87 put him on the verge of glory at 17-14 ahead.
And a nervy 32nd frame changed direction when a brilliant canon shot at 6-56 down put Selby right back in it. And some sterling pots on the final colours ensured Selby’s dream came true.
On an incredible day of tense and dramatic snooker, the sport crowned a new world champion. And what a way to do it against arguably the best of them all.