Mark Selby joins snooker elite in retaining his world title with hard-fought win over John Higgins

English player becomes only fourth player in last 40 years to achieve the feat

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 May, 2017, 9:32am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 May, 2017, 9:35am

England’s Mark Selby successfully defended his world snooker championship, beating four-time champion John Higgins 18 frames to 15 in a thrilling contest.

The 33-year-old Englishman had trailed 10-4 at one stage but just as he did against Ronnie O’Sullivan in 2014 he fought back to win, becoming only the fourth player in the past 40 years to retain the title.

“I can’t believe it, I am still pinching myself now,” Selby said.

“From 10-4 to get to 10-7 yesterday, I was over the moon as I had nothing left. He outplayed me yesterday. Today I came back fresh and was a lot better.

“When I was 10-4 down I was missing everything and had nothing left.

“I said ‘pull something together’. If you lose, you want to at least go down fighting.”

Selby showed character and grit in the final session when leading 16-14 and ahead in the frame he was judged to have fouled when trying to pull off a snooker behind the black.

The referee called it a foul which Selby contested but after a brief moment of doubt the official stuck to his original decision and Higgins went on to win it to close the gap to 16-15.

Selby shrugged off what could have been a setback at a pivotal moment in the match to rattle in a break of 131 in the next frame.

Although Higgins briefly had the upper hand in the next frame all it needed was one error and Selby took full advantage to seal victory.

“I think Mark will add to that, whether it’s one, two, three or four,” said Higgins. “He looks as though he could be the challenger to Stephen Hendry’s seven world titles. He’s just granite and really tough to play against, so I take my hat off to him. It’s up to the likes of Robertson, Trump and Ding to challenge him. They’ll be watching that tonight and it will make them desperate to get back on the practice table.”