Mark Selby showed the snooker world he means business ahead of the upcoming World Championship after winning the China Open for the second time in his career.
The world number one, who in two weeks time will begin the defence of his World Championship title at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre, earned himself his fourth ranking title of the season by beating Mark Williams 10-8 in Beijing.
In a thrilling final, Welshman Williams looked likely to pull off a shock victory when he led 8-7 but Selby showed his true grinding qualities under pressure once again to win the next three frames and win the prestigious ranking event.
The victory continues Selby’s best ever season on the green baize – adding to his three previous title triumphs in the Paul Hunter Classic, International Championship and the UK Championship.
It also gave him the best momentum possible ahead of the World Championship starting on Saturday, April 15. Selby won snooker’s biggest event for a second time more than twelve months ago when he beat Ding Junhui.
Victory for Williams, winner of the World Championship on two occasions, would have sealed an automatic top 16 spot but defeat has left him falling just short and will have to win three qualifying matches in Sheffield to secure a place in the famous event.
In what was a closely contested final throughout, Williams impressed at the start of the final session going 8-7 ahead after trailing 5-4 at the halfway stage.
But Selby dug in it when it mattered and with a wonderful break of 124 went into a 9-8 lead. He then closed out the match dominating the 18th frame to seal the £85,000 prize.
Selby will now concentrate his efforts on becoming just the fourth player to successfully defend the World Championship title since it was hosted at the Crucible 40 years ago. Those who have sucessfully defended their world crown include Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry and Ronnie O’Sullivan.
The World Championship qualifiers get underway from Wednesday, April 5.