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Superb Selby Ends Noppon’s Run

Mark Selby once again proved his calmness under pressure as he made a century in the deciding frame to beat Noppon Saengkham 13-12 in the second round of the Betfred World Championship.

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A tremendous match featured five centuries and 15 more breaks over 50, and Saengkham gave as good as he got as he battled all the way. But in the end it was three-time Crucible king Selby who produced his best at the key moment. He goes through to meet Barry Hawkins or Neil Robertson in the quarter-finals; Selby’s first appearance in the last eight since he won the title in 2017.

Thailand’s Saengkham, the world number 42, came through the qualifying rounds and then scored an excellent win over Shaun Murphy in the last 32. He came so close to keeping the run going and his only regret might be a loose safety in the decider which let his opponent in for the kill.

Selby took the first frame of the concluding session to lead 9-8, and he made a break of 53 in the next, only for Saengkham to steal it with a 54 clearance. A scrappy 19th frame lasted 48 minutes and went Saengkham’s way, then Selby compiled a run of 77 to make it 10-10 at the interval.

Leicester’s Selby dominated frame 21 to edge ahead, and came from 48-0 down to take the 22nd with a 92 clearance to lead 12-10. Saengkham battled back, taking the 23rd in fragments before making a superb 90 for 12-12.

In the decider, Saengkham had two early chances but twice ran out of position and managed only 9 points. A brief safety exchange ended when Saengkham left a red over a top corner, and that proved his last shot as Selby’s marvellous 124 put him into the quarter-finals for the eighth time.

“I’m really proud to have made that break in the last frame,” said 37-year-old Selby. “It was a great match – that was as well as I have played in a while and I still just scraped through. I have been tested and that could help me later in the event.

“I have lacked a bit of confidence lately so I’ve been working with (coach) Chris Henry to help me belief in myself. We have done a bit on the technical side but it has mainly been mental and it seems to be working.

“I’m sure my next game could go all the way as well because Neil and Barry are both great players.”

On the other table, Crucible debutant Jamie Clarke opened up a 6-2 lead over former quarter-finalist Anthony McGill. Welshman Clarke won three qualifying matches to make it to Sheffield and his dream run could continue as he needs just seven of the last 17 frames to book a quarter-final with Kurt Maflin.

The opening frame went to a respotted black and McGill missed a tricky thin cut to a top corner, gifting his opponent an easy pot. Glasgow’s McGill levelled but then couldn’t get any momentum going as Clarke, the lowest ranked player in the field at 89th in the world, surged ahead. Breaks of 60, 49, 52 and 60 helped the 25-year-old from Llanelli go 6-1 up.

McGill made a 57 in the last of the session to reduce his deficit to four frames. They return on Saturday at 2.30pm.