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Selby Steps Up To End Selt Challenge

Selby has two ranking titles under his belt already this season, including the recent WST Classic

Mark Selby scored a tremendous century break in the last frame to quash a Matthew Selt fight-back, winning 10-8 in the first round of the Cazoo World Championship.

Match schedule

Four-time Crucible king Selby looked at risk of a shock exit when qualifier Selt came from 8-4 down to within a frame at 9-8. But – as he has so many times at this venue – Selby found something extra when it mattered most. His match-winning break of 112 in the 18th frame started with a series of excellent pots to keep the break going, and once in prime position, the world number two remained composed as he cruised to the finish line.

Leicester’s Selby, who lifted the trophy in 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2021, goes through to the last 16 to face Gary Wilson, a player who beat him at the same stage in 2019. The best-of-25 frame tie gets underway on Saturday evening.

Selby took the first frame today to go 7-3 ahead before Selt pulled one back with a break of 74, then a run of 56 restored Selby’s four frame cushion. Frame 13 came down to the last red and Selt converted a cocked-hat double to a centre pocket, then cleared to close to 8-5.

The 14th was resolved with a tactical exchange on the pink, and a weak safety from Selby handed his opponent the chance to pot pink and black to continue his fight back. Selby recovered with breaks of 57 and 73 to go 9-6 up, but Selt dominated frame 16, then in the 17th he laid a clever snooker on the yellow and took the chance that followed to close to 9-8. However, his efforts were in vain as Selby seized his opportunity in the 18th.

“It was one of the best breaks I have made, under the circumstances,” said 39-year-old Selby. “Matt was asking me questions, he played well in both sessions. It was tense out there and he put me under pressure. I was happy with how I stood up to it. Matt is a good player, he should do better. He has been here a few times and I knew he wasn’t going to buckle. He has a good match game and he’s capable of beating anyone.

“The biggest thing for me is that mentally I am in a better place to be out there competing. Last year, mentally I was fragile, but now I’m in a better place and that is showing on the table.

“Gary Wilson has won a ranking event this season and seems to play well here. He’s a very high scorer. There are some huge second round games here and that’s what’s great about the World Championship.”

Selt, who has now played four matches at the Crucible without reaching the second round, said: “It was a great game, quite a high standard throughout the whole match. I made a few mistakes, and I don’t want to sound disrespectful but I thought Mark had a great run of the ball – he made quite a few mistakes and got away with them.

“I put him under a bit of pressure tonight and then he produced an unbelievably good break which sums him up as a person and a player. Just an absolutely class break, he deserves the win. Him and Ronnie are always the favourites here.”

On the other table, Mark Williams and Luca Brecel got the second round underway and ended their opening session locked together at 4-4.

The opening round saw Belgium’s Brecel win a match at the Crucible for the first time, beating Ricky Walden in a 10-9. Welshman Williams won six frames on the bounce from 5-4 down to beat Jimmy Robertson 10-5.

Three-time champion Williams took the opening two frames this afternoon with breaks of 68 and 55. Brecel responded with century run of 103, but Williams replied in kind with 113 to make it 3-1 at the interval.

When play resumed, Belgium’s Brecel made his move. He crafted two contributions of 50 on his way to three frames on the bounce and a 4-3 advantage. However, Williams took the last of the afternoon to end all square. They return tomorrow at 10am to play the second of three sessions.