Snooker World Championship final: Mark Selby remains in contention with Ronnie O'Sullivan
The Rocket leads 10-7 after at the midway point
Sunday 04 May 2014
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.
Latest in Sport
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1 player ratings: Carlos Tevez, Cristiano Ronaldo and Alvaro Morata on target - but who scored highest?
Gareth Bale performance slammed by Roy Keane, Paul Scholes and Lee Dixon: 'His team-mates can't be happy'
David Beckham reveals secret of his success: I 'stayed in to watch Match of the Day' rather than go out with friends on a Saturday night
Cristiano Ronaldo sticks up for Japanese boy after he struggles to speak Portuguese
Patrice Evra points to 'Manchester United blood' after Carlos Tevez inspires Juventus win over Real Madrid
- 4 Women think Irish men are the sexiest, survey finds
- 5 Florida couple forced to register as sex offenders for having sex on public beach
In defence of liberal democracy
General Election 2015: Post-election 'shambles' looms as 70 per cent of voters say SNP 'should not be able to veto UK government policies'
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...
£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...
£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...