Mark Selby edged out John Higgins 6-5 in a titanic quarter-final clash at the Betway UK Championship.
An intense battle between two of snooker’s biggest guns, lasting well over four hours, came down to a thrilling deciding frame which Selby won on the colours. He goes through to the semi-finals on Saturday afternoon to meet Shaun Murphy, who thrashed Luca Brecel 6-1.
Selby is now just two wins away from becoming only the sixth player to win all three Triple Crown events on multiple occasions, after Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry, John Higgins, Mark Williams and Ronnie O’Sullivan. Leicester’s Selby has two World Championship crowns to his name, plus three Masters, and is now seeking to double his tally of UK titles having lifted the trophy in 2012.
World number one Selby started superbly today by taking a 3-0 lead with breaks of 119, 63 and 67. But when he missed the last red in the fourth frame when set to go 4-0 up, the match turned as Higgins snatched the frame then won three more, making a 106 to lead 4-3.
Selby’s 63 helped give him frame eight then Scotland’s Higgins regained the lead with a 75. Another 63 from Selby made it 5-5.
The decider lasted 46 minutes and both players wasted chanced as nerves set in. Selby led 60-39 when he missed the final yellow, and Higgins ‘trebled’ the yellow into a middle pocket, but then missed a thin cut on the green with the rest to a baulk corner. Selby potted green, brown, blue and pink to seal the match.
The result ended Higgins’ bid to capture three titles in a month having won the China Championship and Champion of Champions.
Selby said: “I just kept on believing and didn’t let my head go down. At one stage I felt like I was throwing it away. After the interval John started playing well and I had chances but I wasn’t putting them away.
“The drama is good for people watching but it’s not good for us players! When it goes to the last frame I always feel confident because I’ve won so many deciders in the past.”
Higgins said simply: “I’m gutted. I would rather have lost 6-0 than in the last frame like that.”
Murphy, by contrast, enjoyed smooth progress into the last four. After making a 32 clearance to win the opening frame, world number four Murphy knocked in runs of 51 and 112 to lead 3-0. Belgium’s Brecel pulled one back but never threatened a comeback as Murphy won three frames after the interval with top breaks of 54 and 88.
“My game is in good shape,” said Murphy, who won this title in 2008. “I’ve kept running into superheroes this season and fortunately this week my game has stood up a bit stronger.
“It will be tough tomorrow because Mark Selby does what world number ones do and fully deserves his position at the top of the game.”