Mark Selby delivered a vintage display of power snooker to put himself in a commanding position to be crowned the new World Snooker champion at the Crucible. The Leicester-born 36-year-old, who has won the title in two of the last three years, put the pressure on Event One semi-finalist Shaun Murphy with a clinical 10-1 victory.
Selby and Murphy last met at the Crucible in 2007 and Selby won that semi-final 17-16.
|Location: The Crucible Theatre, Sheffield Date: 2-3 May time : 13:00 AND 19:00 MESZ|
|Scope: Watch the match live on Channel Two, iPlayer and online; follow the text commentary on the sports website and app.|
Mark Selby put in a strong performance, taking a three frame lead over Sean Murphy in the World Championship final.
After taking a 5-3 lead on the afternoon, Selby made breaks of 85, 67, 86 and 90 en route to a 10-7 lead.
England’s Murphy came close to his first century of the match, hitting 98 strokes, but could not find his rhythm against Selby’s dominance.
The final best-of-35 match resumes on Monday at 1pm BST – broadcast live.
I was a bit nervous at the start, it’s a world final and I pushed myself even harder and Sean started much better than me, Selby told Sport.
In all the finals I’ve competed in so far, I’ve always felt very tired, but today I gave it my all, worked hard when I had to and got through it.
Selby gets off to a good start after a slow start
Murphy, seeking his second world title 16 years after his 2005 triumph, which was the biggest title in history, took the lead Sunday afternoon in front of a crowd of about 600, the largest ever at the tournament.
But as the match progressed, the energy and pace he showed in his fine victory in the semifinals over Kieren Wilson began to fade.
Before the match, six-time former champion Steve Davis called Selby the Dementor from the Harry Potter movies because of his ability to dominate and suffocate his opponents.
And sometimes that label seemed entirely appropriate, especially in tactical exchanges where Selby usually had the upper hand.
However, Selby has also stepped in heavily when given the chance to score, and he seems close to the form that led to three world titles between 2014 and 2017.
Looking for his fourth world title, which would put him behind Stephen Hendry (seven), Ronnie O’Sullivan and Steve Davis (six each) in the battle for the Crucible crown, he started with a brilliant 85 and was not surprised when Murphy replied with a 98.
Selby then came back and won six of the next seven frames, including a score of 86 after a second delay in the 12th.
With an error and two breaks of 48 and 57, he evened the match at 7-7 and after taking the lead for the first time at 90, he used all the experience he had gained in the previous four finals to take the lead.
If tonight was a disappointment for Murphy, he can take comfort in the fact that he won his only previous world title after overcoming an even bigger deficit when he lost 10-6 to Matthew Stephens at the same stage of the match.
He was great today, Murphy told Sport. He always found an answer to the good shots I thought I was taking, and he scored some unheard of long shots.
It’s easier than 2005, but I think I showed in the semis that I can win if I lose. This game is far from over.
The return of the crucible roar
The event was used as part of the UK government’s pilot programme to allow crowds back in after Covid rules were relaxed.
In contrast to the surreal atmosphere that accompanied the postponement of the 2020 World Cup, the two players were greeted with thunderous applause as they entered the room.
Speaking to Sport, Hendry said: I have goosebumps, and I’m not even playing. We wondered if it would ever happen again – it’s an incredible sight.
The excitement created by the crowd is something we all miss. Every sport has its slippers, but here at the Crucible, they’re special.
Although the final was scheduled for 980 spectators, about 600 fans were present for the two sessions on Sunday.
Sunday’s final was attended by the largest crowd at a snooker event since March 2020.
Organizers believe that the reluctance of some participants to come in for the event, as well as travel and accommodation restrictions, affected attendance.
The final sessions should be fully booked by Monday.
Analysis – Selby looks like a snooker vampire
Seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry on Show 2:
Claws in place, and deep down, Mark Selby looks like a snooker vampire. It sucks the life and adrenaline out of you. He is the most incredible opponent I have ever seen – I would not want to play against him. I don’t know how he does it. Suddenly he can make the play he wants. Sean Murphy doesn’t know what happened to him.