Mark Selby reached the final of the Betway UK Championship with a 6-2 defeat of Shaun Murphy to remain on course to become only the sixth player to win snooker’s two biggest ranking titles in the same year.
Leicester’s Selby outplayed his close friend Murphy in York and, having conquered the Crucible in May, is just one win away from following Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry, John Parrott, John Higgins and Ronnie O’Sullivan as the only players to win the World and UK titles in the same year.
On Sunday he will face either Ronnie O’Sullivan or Marco Fu, with first to ten frames to take the trophy and £170,000 top prize. Victory would also make Selby the sixth player to win all three Triple Crown events on multiple occasions, following Davis, Hendry, Higgins, O’Sullivan and Mark Williams.
Murphy took the opening frame today with a break of 99 before world number one Selby hit back with 55 and 83 to take the next two. Frame four came down to the colours and Selby got the better of a safety battle on the green before clearing to the pink to lead 3-1 at the interval.
The next two frames were shared, then Selby crucially won the seventh with a colours clearance to lead 5-2. A run of 51 put him in charge of the next frame, and although he missed a red to a top corner with the winning line close, he got another chance after a weak safety from Murphy on the penultimate red. This time Selby made no mistake as he reached his third UK final in five year, having beaten Murphy in the 2012 final then lost to Neil Robertson in 2013.
“I played well after the interval, I shut Shaun out and scored well,” said Selby, who has already won three ranking events in the past seven months – the World Championship, Paul Hunter Classic and International Championship. “To be one of the elite players to win the World and UK in the same year would be fantastic.
“It’s a great feeling to be back in the final here although if I lose tomorrow I will be devastated. If I play Ronnie then the atmosphere will be fantastic, although it will probably only be (wife) Vikki and (daughter) Sofia cheering me on. But there’s no guarantee he will beat Marco tonight.”