Joe Perry inflicted defending champion Mark Selby’s first Crucible defeat in three years after a shock 10-4 victory for the Gentleman in their opening round tie at the Betfred World Championship.
Selby’s winning run in Sheffield had extended to ten matches across his triumphs in 2016 and 2017. It’s only the seventh time a reigning champion has been ousted at the first hurdle at the Crucible Theatre.
First Round Crucible Defeats For Defending Champions
1982 Steve Davis 1-10 Tony Knowles
1986 Dennis Taylor 6-10 Mike Hallett
2000 Stephen Hendry 7-10 Stuart Bingham
2007 Graeme Dott 7-10 Ian McCulloch
2012 Neil Robertson 8-10 Judd Trump
2016 Stuart Bingham 9-10 Ali Carter
2017 Mark Selby 4-10 Joe Perry
Regardless of the outcome at the Crucible this year, Selby has already ensured that he will finish the season as world number one after victory at the recent China Open.
Perry’s win this evening comes 12 months on from missing out on a place at the Crucible in 2017. The former Players Champion came through three tough matches at qualifying last week to seal his place at the event.
The world number 22 looked the sharper throughout today’s clash, but inflicted the majority of the damage in a fine morning session performance, which saw him establish a 7-2 lead.
Selby showed his steel last year when he overturned a 10-4 deficit to defeat John Higgins to win 18-15 in the final. However, the five-frame gap this evening proved too much for the 34-year-old.
The Leicester potter took two out of the first three frames this evening to give himself a glimmer of hope at 8-4. However, from there Perry thrust himself over the line with breaks of 76 and 90 to seal a famous win.
“I’m delighted, chuffed,” said Perry. “When the draw came out, I knew I’d have to perform to the best of my ability. Luck was on my side today, I had a few nice little bits of run which I capitalised on. All in all, I’m really pleased with my performance.
“The frame to go 9-4 up was massive. I sensed that for the first time all day he could smell blood. Luckily he didn’t get on a ball when he split the reds and I took full advantage with a good break.
“Mark is the best player we’ve got, he’s the best ambassador we’ve got and I didn’t want to celebrate too much at the end. I’ve got too much respect for him and it must be horrible for him to lose. I’ve lost here before lots of times, and never experienced being the reigning champion.
“It’s up there with my best results. I beat Mark Williams when he was world champion years ago (2004), and at the time that was one of my highlights and one of the best wins I’d ever had. When you beat the world number one, the World Champion, in any tournament it’s a great feeling and to do it at the Crucible makes it even more special.
“I know my game’s in good order, but come Thursday this result doesn’t mean anything. I’ve got to go out and perform again at a very high level. But I’ll enjoy it for now.”
Afterwards a disappointed Selby was full of praise for his opponent and admitted much of the damage was done this morning.
“Joe has underachieved if anything. He should have a lot won more than he’s won. I’ve always rated him as a top player,” said the world number one. “I knew he wouldn’t be fazed by the occasion, he’s been here too many times and is too long in the tooth for that.
“I lost it really in the first session. My safety wasn’t up to scratch and every time I made a mistake he punished me heavily.
“The last three or four years I’ve had some good success here so I can’t complain. I’m gutted to lose but if you’d told me in 2014 that in the next three or four years I’d have won it three times I’d definitely have taken that.”
Meanwhile, 2006 Crucible king Graeme Dott built a 6-3 lead over Ali Carter to move within four frames of a last 16 meeting with Ronnie O’Sullivan or Stephen Maguire.
Dott took the opening frame with a top break of 49 then Carter levelled with a 106. Two scrappy frames went Dott’s way then he made a 34 clearance to nick the next on the black and go 4-1 up.
Carter pulled one back with a 52 clearance but Scotland’s Dott dominated the next two for 6-2. The last of the session went Carter’s way but he’ll need seven of the last ten frames when they resume at 2.30pm on Sunday.