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Tuesday, 6 May 2014

World Championship-Selbys Triumph + Thoughts on tournament

Mark Selby is the 2014 dafabet World Champion after an extraordinary comeback saw him beat Ronnie O'Sullivan 18-14 to claim his first world title.

This had seemed a most unlikely outcome on Sunday evening as at different stages Ronnie lead 8-3 & 10-5,but as he eluded to in his press conference an missed black at 10-5 allowed Selby a chance to win that frame and he then took the next,to end a day where he had not played well at all,just three behind at 10-7.

Selby of course has plenty of previous when it comes to mounting comebacks and in an absorbing start to the third session he completely dictated the play with some proper matchplay snooker to freeze Ronnie out and continue his fightback winning the opening four frames to amazingly lead for the first time at 11-10. Ronnie took the next to level at 11-11 and in a 50 minute 23rd frame looked have done the hard work,only to miss the most routine of pinks to the centre and Selby pounced to go 12-11.

Such was the length of time these frames were taking,the players were called ashore at this stage to give them some time to prepare for last nights final session. On resumption,a superb long red from Ronnie followed by a quickfire century saw him level again at 12-12,but Selby was starting to find his best from of the match now and he won the next three to go 15-12 at the interval

Your don't win as much in the game as Ronnie has if you don't have battling qualities and O'Sullivan showed these qualities to close within one at 15-14.We looked set now for a grandstand finish,but form here Selby produced his best snooker of the match,taking the next two with breaks of 127 & 87 to move to the brink at 17-14. Ronnie had his chance to win the next,but he couldn't get it done and Selby pounced to clear and claim a famous 18-14 victory.

This did of course not only secure a first World title for Selby,but it also completed a career triple crown of the sports major prizes and moved him back to no.1 in the rankings.Not a bad days at all then!

For Ronnie I think its probably fair to comment,that for all the fact that he coasted through the quarter and semi finals,he never really hit the heights that he had in the last two years here.This and the fact he let a five frame lead slip away will be big disappointment to him,but in his press conference he didn't give any reason to think he wont be back next year to try and claim a sixth title.

So then today as the dust settles on the the 2014 world championship what sort of 17 days did we have? Well firstly I don't think this,for all the drama of the first round, will be remembered as a vintage year standardwise and this may actually be a trend that was masked in the last two years by the success's of Ronnie.

Secondly another worrying trend is the ever rising average age of the players competing in the latter stages of events.These are of course solid professionals all,but when you have a situation where there are more players over 40 in the last 8 than players in their 20's it possibly points to the inconvenient truth that there is real a lack of great players coming through.This is something I will blog in more detail about in coming weeks

Thirdly it was a surprise to see Ding Junhui once again fail so dramatically here after a season where he had looked to have slayed many of his demons,but there were signs that Judd Trump is beginning to find some form again so maybe he can hit the heights he has previously again next season.

Fourthly, I want to congratulate the BBC on their coverage. Yes I know it was frustrating to see them leave a final frame decider for a repeat of Eggheads and in many ways thats unforgivable,but their early morning broadcasts were a welcome addition,as was their "Table Talk" section where they actually discussed in detail the real issues affecting the sport. For all the complaints I don't see any other broadcaster who could do it better.

Finaly though lets once again salute our champion.I will hold my hands up and admit I have never looked at Mark Selby as a potential world champion and I think that this was because,for all that I admire him as a professional,I could never really make up my mind if he was a decent player who won more than he should because of his dogged style or a great player who possessed a wonderful B game that saw through even when not at his best. I think I got my answer last night.Well done Mark Selby World Champion 2014

Saturday, 3 May 2014

World Championship Semi Final Round Up + Final preview

The final of the 2014 dafabet World Championship will see two of the sports great champions squaring off against each other as defending & five time champion Ronnie O'Sullivan faces Mark Selby over two days & the best of 35 frames for the games most coveted title.

Mark Selby reached the world final for the second time in his career tonight after a hard fought 17-15 win over Neil Robertson in a match that had everything.

From the outset this looked like it would be a close affair throughout and so it proved as a tight first session left Selby leading 5-3. In what was to become the trend for the match Robertson leveled things up at 5-5 at the start of the second session but Selby pulled away again to hold his lead at the end 9-7.

Into this mornings session then and when u have two players as renowned for their safety game as these two,a session like this was always on the cards and so it proved as a very long,but thoroughly engrossing eight frames left things perfectly poised for tonight ending as it did 12-12.

Out both players came tonight then and an extraordinary thing happen,as two players who at times seem to fall into the trap of not trying to lose rather then trying to win,both started to go for it and produce some fabulous snooker.Robertson was the first to strike,taking a 13-12 lead ,before two in a row from Selby saw him lead again at 14-13.Robertson then took the last before the interval to make it 14-14.

The match now had been reduced to a best of five and it was Selby who took a major leap towards the final taking the next two to move to the brink at 16-14. There was time for one more century for Robertson,bringing his season total to 103,but the end was to come in the 34th frame when a 74 from Selby saw him over the line to win 17-15.

By contrast his opponent in tomorrows final Ronnie O'Sullivan could hardly have had a less stressful path through to his sixth world final as,for the second round in a row,he completed victory with a session to spare,beating Barry Hawkins 17-7.

You always felt for Hawkins to have a chance in this one he needed a good start and thats what he got as he lead Ronnie 2-1. He really should have made it 3-1 ,but Ronnie leveled it and never looked back ending the first session with a 6-2 lead.

That became 10-6 after four majestic frames at the start of the second session.Hawkins did at least manage to find some form winning three of the next four,but still trailed 11-5 going into the third session.Ronnie needed six of the eight frames to give himself a Saturday afternoon off and thats what he got,sealing the victory in the last frame of the night winning 17-7.

So now we have the final that snooker fans have wanted to see for a long time. Selby of course has a great record against Ronnie in final with a head to head record of played six. and each won three.Two of those victories from Selby came from seemingly losing positions and such was the way he got under Ronnies skin in those games,That Ronnie christened him "The Torturer" in his recent autobiography.

These performances will of course give Selby encouragement,but as they say,That was then & this is now.Since those finals a few years back I think most would agree Ronnie has stepped things up in every department of his gameplay and as importantly his approach.For a current formline all you have to do is look at the demolition job Ronnie did on. Selby in The Masters final in January.

In that match,as in his last two rounds here Ronnie was quick out of the blocks and never looked back..It Therefore goes without saying for Selby to have a chance of claiming his first world title he needs to be within touching distance of Ronnie after the first two sessions tomorrow.If I'm honest I just don't see him getting close enough to worry Ronnie and my Score Prediction is 18-10 to Ronnie