World Champion Mark Selby won a Cazoo Masters match for the first time in three years, securing a 6-3 defeat of Stephen Maguire at Alexandra Palace to book a quarter-final meeting with close friend Barry Hawkins.
The Jester from Leicester is a three-time Masters winner, but hasn’t made it to the semi-finals since 2014 when he was runner-up. He last won the event back in 2013, by defeating Neil Robertson in the final.
Despite occupying the summit of the world rankings, Selby is still aiming to hit top form this season. He landed a fourth World Championship crown last May, beating Shaun Murphy 18-15 in an enthralling Crucible final. Since then he has only reached semis of a ranking event on one occasion, at the Cazoo World Grand Prix in December.
Selby now holds a 10-8 advantage over Maguire in the pair’s head-to-head record. Today’s win avenges an opening round Masters loss at the hands of Maguire 12 months ago. Selby also exited at the first hurdle to Ali Carter in 2020.
A ferociously contested opening frame set the tone for the encounter this evening. They slogged it out for 45-minutes, before Selby eventually moved 1-0 ahead.
Maguire then swiftly levelled proceedings with a break of 87. They then shared the following two frames to head into the mid-session level at 2-2.
When play resumed Selby edged ahead once more, before winning the sixth with a break of 64 to make it 4-2.
Selby then won the seventh on the colours to move a frame from victory. Maguire provided some resistance by firing in a contribution of 84 to make it 5-3. However, it was to no avail as Selby ran out a 6-3 winner by taking the following frame.
“I didn’t feel as though I played fantastically, but I didn’t miss ball after ball,” said 38-year-old Selby. “It was a tough game. It was always going to be that way against Stephen as he is a class act.
“Barry is probably one of my best friends on the tour. I get on with everyone, but when we are at tournaments we are always texting each other to go out for food. He stays at mine and I stay at his when we are practising. He is a great lad and a great player.
“Walking out there tonight was a great atmosphere. It would have been a shame to lose tonight and be sat at home watching the rest of it. That isn’t the case. I have another few days here and I’ll look forward to Friday night against Barry.”