Mark Selby began the defence of his BetVictor European Masters title with a 5-3 win over Matthew Selt, before putting snooker into context by opening up on his current mental health issues.
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Last month, Selby posted on Twitter to reveal that he was ‘mentally not in a good place’ due to issues he had been ‘bottling it up for years.’ He has since had regular help from a specialist. After today’s result, the world number one and World Champion was asked about his current state of mind and about his decision to go public about his condition.
“I am up and down, there are still more bad days than good,” said the 38-year-old from Leicester. “That’s what I’m working on, to turn that around. I am doing online sessions with a doctor from London. I have one tomorrow morning. I am trying, and that’s the main thing.
“For years I have been struggling, on and off. (Wife) Vicky said to me I should just come out and say it. I have never been one to expect sympathy from people, that wasn’t why I did it. We were on the way home from the Masters, we stopped at motorway services and Vicky went inside to get a coffee
“I was sitting in the car, staring into space, and realised I couldn’t carry on like this, botting it all up, I needed to get it out there. If I had said it all in an interview I probably would have broken down, so I thought it was better to say it on social media. Since saying that I feel better. Half the battle is won by speaking out. There is still a long way to go and I am working on that with the doctor.
“I have a different perspective on snooker now. I put my health first. Obviously I try my hardest in every match, but it doesn’t matter as much whether I win or lose. The main thing is to get myself better and get on to the right track, and snooker is secondary. I still love the game and still want to play, if I can still compete without feeling it’s too much mentally, then I will carry on. But I’m taking it one day and one match at a time.”
Breaks of 70, 79, 69, 128 and 58 helped Selby to victory today as he set up a last 64 clash with Jordan Brown.
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Judd Trump took just 53 minutes to beat Michael Judge 5-0, rattling in breaks of 66, 93, 53 and 129.
Luca Brecel made a 101 as he pulled away from 3-3 to beat Gary Wilson 5-3, while Graeme Dott came from 3-0 down to edge out Mark Davis 5-4.
Kyren Wilson pulled away from 2-2 to beat Jamie Jones 5-2 with top runs of 73 and 100. “My game has been good this season but people have been playing out of their skin against me,” said Wilson, chasing his first ranking title since 2020. “We have got a lot of new players and young talent coming through which keeps me on my toes.”