Snooker: Selby breathes a sigh of relief after claiming third Masters title
MARK Selby breathed a sigh of relief after he saved his best until last in claiming the third Masters title of his already illustrious career with a 10-6 win against Neil Robertson on Sunday night.
Selby, the world No.1, had a fast start to thank for his convincing victory over the defending champion as he raced into a 5-3 lead in Sunday’s afternoon session with breaks of 73, 102 and 84.
And when the players returned in the evening the reigning UK champion held off the Australian’s comeback, Robertson did close to at 8-6 at one point, to become the first man since Mark Williams to win the UK Championship and the Masters in the same season.
Selby, 29, was the first to admit that he had not played his best in getting to Sunday’s showpiece event at the Alexandra Palace, indeed Selby had not made a single century on his way to gritty wins against Stuart Bingham, Mark Williams and Graeme Dott en route to the finale.
But having finished the tournament off in style Selby insisted it was a relief to have put on a show for the crowd when it counted most.
“It was nice to play my best because I knew coming in that I would have to improve on how I had played in the tournament,” said Selby, whose marathon semi-final against Dott had only finished in the early hours of Sunday morning.
“I wanted to be more attacking, to score more heavily and to put Neil under pressure and I was pleased I managed to do that.”
“Especially in the afternoon session when I felt really good and that was probably what made the difference in the end.
“I knew that Neil was going to come back, he’s such a good player that it was a question of me really falling over the line.
“By the evening session I was starting to feel it a little bit in terms of fatigue after the semi-final but I held on in the end.”
Last season Selby feared he might never return to the top of the game after a back injury dramtically hindered his ability to practice, and subsequently compete.
But with those injuries now a thing of the past Selby is very much the top dog in the sport after securing back-to-back UK and Masters titles.
“If you had told me last year that I would be sitting here with both of these titles and world No.1 I wouldn’t have believed you,” he added.
“But it’s a credit to my team around me that they have stuck with me and it feels great, after the injury and the loss of confidence.
“I will go to the worlds hoping to complete the triple crown but there are a lot of good players, Neil included, who will be trying their best to stop me.”
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