A HUGE fist pump to the crowd clearly showed how much victory meant to Mark Selby last night.
If there were any doubts whether Selby had the character to defend his World Championship title then they were put to bed after an impressive comeback which at one stage appeared unlikely to happen.
Just like when he trailed to Ronnie O’Sullivan in last year’s final, Selby digged deep when it most mattered as he fought his way to the winning line after Maflin impressively led 9-8 winning five frames on the bounce from 8-4 down.
It was a stunning match which was compelling all the way to the end and Selby admitted he was ready to accept defeat until cracks in Maflin’s game started to show.
“At 9-8 down I was preparing my losing speech,” he said.
“But towards the end I knew he was feeling it, and I felt that if I could regroup and get myself together then I had a chance.
“There have been so many great names who have failed to defend the title at the first attempt. It’s the toughest tournament to win, regardless of whether I won it last year.
“Every credit to Kurt because he played great and stood up to the pressure on his first time here. From 8-5 he took the game to me. At any other venue he probably would have won.”
Maflin, who was making his first ever appearance at the Crucible, said tiredness towards the end may have proved a factor in missing crucial pots which could have seen claim one of the tournament’s most surprising wins.
“I had a chance but didn’t take it, so Mark deserved to win,” he said. “He’s so tough to beat. I was calm all day and felt good even at 6-3 down. Maybe I got a bit tired at the end.”