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Mark Selby beats John Higgins to seal Crucible title

Mark Selby beats John Higgins to seal Crucible title

From 10-4 down, the world No. 1 won 10 of the next 11 frames to take charge against Higgins, a four-time champion from Scotland playing his first final in six years.

In the final frame before the interval Selby looked in control until he let Higgins back at the table however not for the first time Higgins lost his positioning and looked unhappy with the table.

"After that tournament I told him, I know you re disappointed but don t be because you re definitely going to come back and win this thing", Higgins said. "I was 10-4 down and thinking there was no way I was going to come back from that".

"It was tough to take but I thought to myself, 'I was 10-4 down yesterday and I'd have taken 16-15 in front".

"He did not play well either and I think I dragged him down".

The decision left Selby stewing in his chair as a rejuvenated Higgins went on to clinch a frame that closed the gap to one, with replays suggesting Verhaas' call was a tight but accurate one. But I just had to put it out of my mind and get on with it. "If you lose, you want to at least go down fighting". "To get over the two-win mark and sit on three is unbelievable, and to be one of only four players to retain the title is the stuff dreams are made of, really".

But a dominant Bank Holiday Monday performance saw Selby overcome four-time world champion Higgins, who at 41 was bidding to become the oldest victor since Ray Reardon won in 1978 aged 45.

And, Selby has previous, having battled back from 10-5 down against O'Sullivan in that 2014 final. He did just that to seal victory with breaks of 131 and 75.

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Selby sniffed another chance, but an ambitious red down the cushion failed to drop, and Higgins pounced. Higgins hit back with an 88 clearance to pull one back, and he gathered momentum with a brilliant 111 to make it 16-14. The Scotsman was finding himself sinking deeper into a rut, as a second bite at the cherry resulted in Selby making 58 and winning his eighth of the last nine frames. John Higgins, seven. Free ball.

The Crucible, celebrating its 40th anniversary staging snooker's greatest tournament, has seen many great plots unfold - and the prospect of Higgins becoming the oldest victor since 1978, while breaking Steve Davis' record for most professional matches ever won, was tantalising.

He returns with a 10-7 deficit but at one stage was six frames adrift of John Higgins, looking in dire trouble and facing near-certain defeat.

But nearly two decades since his first world title in 1998, Higgins is adamant he will have m ore opportunities to taste victory at the Crucible Theatre.

He had attempted to play a snooker behind the black but was ruled to have trickled up short by referee Jan Verhaas.

It was a decision which could have upset less experienced players, but Selby was unruffled.

Selby also matches the record of five ranking titles in a season, previously achieved by Hendry in 1990/91 and Ding in 2013/14. However, the Scottish player made a couple of surprise misses and allowed Selby to regain his foothold in the match.

"That was a big, big frame". He is a fantastic champion.


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