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‘Animal’ Selby Into Eighth Crucible Semi

Mark Selby moved a step closer to a fifth Cazoo World Championship title as he came from 4-1 down to beat John Higgins 13-7 and earn a semi-final clash with Mark Allen.

Higgins described Selby as “an animal on the table” at the end of a battle between two players with four Crucible crowns apiece.

Victory for Selby levels his head-to-head record with Higgins on snooker’s grandest stage. The pair have now beaten each other three times each at the Theatre of Dreams. Their storied rivalry has included two world finals; Higgins won the title match in 2007 and Selby was victorious in 2017.

Selby will now progress to face a semi-final showdown against player of the season so far Mark Allen. The Pistol earned his place in the last four with a hard fought 13-10 win over Jak Jones.

Defeat ends a disappointing season for Higgins, who failed to go beyond the quarter-finals in any ranking event. It’s the first time that has happened to the Scot since 2012.

Selby came into the evening with a 9-5 advantage following this afternoon’s second session, which was cut two frames short due to over running. When play got back underway a break of 64 saw the Leicester cueman extend his cushion to five frames. Glasgow’s Higgins replied by taking a 37-minute 15th, after crafting a contribution of 65 to make it 10-6.

The 17th frame went the way of Selby, who re-established his five frame lead thanks to a run of 67. Higgins had a chance in the next but fell out of ideal position and missed a black on 38, Selby ruthlessly punished with 91 to move a frame from victory at 12-6.

Higgins defiantly fired in a century run of 102, but Selby quickly stamped up any hopes of a fightback with a break of 67 to wrap up the win and seal a place in the World Championship semi-finals for the eighth time in his career.

“It is a massive accolade from someone like John (to be praised). I have so much respect for John as a player and a person. From start to finish I felt I played as good as I can. My safety was as good as it can be, it needed to be. When I got my chances I scored more times than not. It’s a tough combination,” said 39-year-old Selby.

“Mark (Allen) has been the form player this year. He is number one on the money list for a reason. He won three tournaments, lost in the final of another and now here he is in the semi-finals of the World Championship. It doesn’t get any easier and will be a tough game. Mark will fancy the job but I’m going to look forward to it.

“I always put a lot of pressure on myself because I know what I’m capable of if I turn up. Nobody puts more pressure on me than I do. I don’t read too much into what people think. I know I have a tough game against Mark.”

Higgins said: “I played a terrible first frame today. I should definitely have gone 5-4 in front. From then it was downhill for me and Mark got stronger. He just totally took me apart. His safety was incredible. I was in bad positions all day. He is an animal on the table, he really is.

“He just continually keeps you on the back foot. When you do come to the table with a chance your mind is a little bit frazzled sometimes. He is a master of the game of snooker. He is an incredible player.

“It’s alright doing it against the other players, when you are against the big boys and they are putting it to you, it is about how you come back. I never came back. It is a disappointing end to the tournament for me.”