Snooker: Mark Selby falls apart to miss out on the triple crown

 

the crucible

The world No 1 Mark Selby saw his dream of completing snooker's triple crown disappear in miserable circumstances yesterday as his game disintegrated and he succumbed to a stunning comeback from Barry Hawkins.

Selby led 9-7 overnight in their second-round match of the World Championship, after Hawkins won the last frame of the middle session to stay in the hunt. But yesterday Selby's game fell to pieces and his opponent won six out of seven frames to take a 13-10 win.

The rot set in early, with Selby reaching 48 in the first frame before leaving himself a tricky red and fluffing the cut.

The misses kept coming from the 29-year-old, many of them quite staggering. Selby won a safety battle on the pink in the opening frame, and potted that ball to leave himself black for the match, but he rattled it around the jaws of the centre pocket and Hawkins made no mistake when it fell kindly in his favour.

As Selby's game continued to disintegrate, Hawkins held himself together and punched the air in delight once victory was secure.

Selby had won the UK Championship and Masters already this season, but the World Championship title remains elusive.

On the other table yesterday there was a repeat match-up of last year's final, with the defending champion, Ronnie O'Sullivan, threatening to race away from Ali Carter in their second-round clash before having to settle for a slender overnight lead.

When O'Sullivan fired in a break of 125 to lead 5-1, it seemed that Carter's terrible record against the former world No 1 was certain to continue. But Carter took the final two frames of the session to narrow his deficit, finishing with a flurry of confidence-lifting aggressive pots as he stayed in the hunt.

O'Sullivan had not lost to Carter in their 12 previous meetings at major tournaments, and despite having been absent from the tour for almost a year before this event, he is firm favourite again.

That rating seemed spot on as the four-time champion powered into a 3-0 lead yesterday with early breaks of 78 and 66, although Carter took the next to go to the interval on a positive note.

Carter, 33, who also lost heavily to O'Sullivan in the 2008 final, needed to show fight, but his safety play had been poor and that was proving costly.

When the gap widened to four frames, he needed to respond with something quickly and he found it in the form of an 82 break in frame seven and 51 in the last of the day.

 



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