Mark Selby won his fourth ranking title of the season by beating Mark Williams 10-8 in the final of the Bank of Beijing China Open.
World number one Selby captured the 11th ranking title of his career and a top prize of £85,000 by coming from 8-7 down to win the last three frames.
Defeat was a double blow for 42-year-old Williams as he missed out on his first ranking title in six years and also the chance to regain a place among the world’s top 16. Victory would have given him an automatic spot at the Crucible later this month, but now he must head to the Betfred World Championship qualifiers which start on Wednesday (tickets available – click here for details) and will need to win three matches to make the final stages. Ryan Day must have been the most relieved man following the final as he hung on to the 16th seeding position thanks to his fellow Welshman’s defeat.
Selby, meanwhile, will head to the Crucible at the top of his game having had his most successful season to date. He had never previously won more than two ranking events in a single campaign, but following his victories at the Paul Hunter Classic, International Championship and UK Championship, the 33-year-old from Leicester has landed another piece of silverware.
In fact Selby had a relatively quiet spell in recent months – failing to reach a semi-final in the seven tournaments which followed his UK triumph in December. But in winning seven matches in Beijing he has established himself as hot favourite as he goes to Sheffield attempting to win his third World title since 2014.
Williams last reached a ranking final at the 2015 Players Championship
A high quality start to the final saw Selby build a 3-1 lead with breaks of 54, 100 and 109, while Williams made a 124 in frame three. The next four were shared, then Williams made a 106 in the last frame of the opening session to trail just 5-4 heading into the conclusion.
Williams, whose last ranking title came when he beat Selby in the final of the 2011 German Masters, took three of the first four frames of the evening session with top breaks of 68, 65 and 81 to move 7-6 ahead. Selby restored parity with a 95 before Williams won a tense 50-minute 15th frame on the pink.
Selby rose to the occasion with runs of 70 and 124 to edge 9-8 ahead, and he dominated the 18th frame with a top break of 39 to seal the title.
“We both played so well, we scored when we got chances and the safety was good,” said Selby, who also won the China Open in 2015. “Overall it was a very good match and neither of us did much wrong. Just a few balls here and there made the difference for me.
“I’ll go to Sheffield trying my best. Winning here gives me a lot of confidence, though there are a lot of great players playing well at the moment. I’m going to keep on working hard to try to win more tournaments and stay at number one.”
Williams, who won £35,000, said: “It was a fantastic game from start to finish. I was 8-7 up and then didn’t get much of a chance in the last three frames. I was playing the number one in the world and one of the best players ever, and I pushed him all the way. The likes of Trump, Robertson and Murphy are all good players but none of them are in Mark’s league. I had a tough draw and I’m happy with the way I performed all week.”