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
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to be part of a ...

Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Technical Support Engineer

£19000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT and Telecoms company ar...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Manager - Visitor Fundraising

£23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...

Recruitment Genius: Developer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future