Snooker World Championship final: Mark Selby remains in contention with Ronnie O'Sullivan

The Rocket leads 10-7 after at the midway point

Mark Selby could not afford another slow start on day two of the Dafabet World Championship final after allowing Ronnie O'Sullivan a head start at the Crucible.

The 30-year-old Leicester potter lost the opening three frames of both afternoon and evening sessions on Sunday before each time clawing his way back to finish 10-7 behind overnight.

For long periods there looked to be only one feasible outcome, as O'Sullivan homed in on a sixth Crucible title, and third in a row.

But from 8-3, snooker's most lethal potter dropped four of the next six frames as Selby eased his deficit, with the best-of-35-frame contest resuming at 2pm this afternoon before its evening finish.

The record books show O'Sullivan does not lose Crucible finals and on his return the 38-year-old will be armed with an advantage, which was his priority.

He made certain of it in sparkling fashion with a total clearance of 131 to lift the showpiece occasion from its mid-evening doldrums, nudging 9-5 in front, and followed that with 87 to go 10-5 clear with two frames still to play in the day.

Yet Selby saved his best for last, as breaks of 58 and 62 won him consecutive frames.

Until then, Selby had looked set for another savaging at the hands of the player who dealt him a 10-4 hiding in January's Masters final.

Three-times Masters champion Selby had a top break of 42 from the opening 11 frames, so to trail by only three and finish on such a high means he should return with a renewed appetite for the challenge.

O'Sullivan's afternoon 102 and big evening century took his tournament tally to 12.

And there had been no disguising where Selby's second final, and first since losing to John Higgins in 2007, was going wrong initially.

Chances were coming his way but going begging, and his inability to score heavily when in the balls rendered him effectively uncompetitive against the world's best player.

There was the factor of the late finish on Saturday, after a 17-15 triumph over Neil Robertson in their semi-final, plus the day off O'Sullivan enjoyed after turning over Barry Hawkins with a session to spare, that meant perhaps it was inevitable Selby would struggle.

After O'Sullivan obliterated the challenges presented by Shaun Murphy and Hawkins in the previous two rounds, a third thrashing was regarded as an unlikely prospect.

The theory was that Selby was too tough a player to fold on the big stage, yet it does not require a great memory to recall that thumping Masters final loss.

If Selby was still bearing scars, he began to forget them towards the end of the evening.

O'Sullivan had delivered as high a tribute as he has perhaps ever paid Selby, when saying before the match that it was his opponent's temperament that set the bar.

Selby has become, O'Sullivan remarked, "the ultimate match player".

This particular contest became so niggly that three re-racks were required in the evening session, but O'Sullivan rose above the monotony, looking set to match Steve Davis' haul of six world titles and close to just one behind Stephen Hendry.

O'Sullivan has branded Selby both as "the torturer" and "a predator" in recent times, and come the final frames of day one he needed to live up to the billing.

That he did bodes well for the man seeking his first world title, but armed with a handy cushion O'Sullivan will still take some overhauling.

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Director - Product Management

£75000 - £85000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the largest and fastes...

Recruitment Genius: HGV Fitter - Technician

£16 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity for someone ...

Recruitment Genius: Automotive Service Advisor - Franchised Main Dealer

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful, family owned m...

Ashdown Group: Account Payable Assistant - SW London

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Account Payable Assistant - SW Londo...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence