Mark Selby returned to the top of the snooker by sinking Shaun Murphy 18-15 to win his fourth world title in a noisy Crucible.
Selby withstood a touching retaliation from his opponent in the final session to join John Higgins as a four-time champion, striking through the air after sinking the last black under immense pressure.
The 37-year-old had been through a scorching spell after winning his previous crown in 2017, collapsing in the first round as the defending champion and relinquishing his world No.1 status after spending more than two and a half years without British ranking. Title.
Mark Selby withstood a moving retaliation from his opponent in the final session to win the title
He rose to the top by sinking Shaun Murphy 18-15 to win his fourth world title
But to speak of the Leicester man’s demise proved premature as he made his way to the top, culminating in a dazzling return to peak form this fortnight, in which he lost only 11 images in his first three matches.
Selby left for the final session with a 14-11 advantage, but well aware of the danger posed by Murphy, who had roared in the final in the kind of fluid form that evoked memories of his title charge as a new qualifier. in 2005.
By his own admission, Murphy had endured a dismal season in lockdown, complicated by travel restrictions from his home in Ireland, and admitted he was as surprised as anyone to rediscover his game on the bigger stage.
The famous pool hall saw every seat filled after fans were allowed to return to their masses
Selby let out a loud roar after packing the final black under strained pressure in Sheffield
But despite the response with centuries in a row when Selby stood at a picture of victory, it turned out to be a case of what could have been for Murphy, who missed two previous opportunities to reduce Selby’s advantage to a single image.
Picking up 10-7 behind on the final day, Murphy won the first game but left black hanging over the pocket in the next, speeding up what appeared to be the decisive move from Selby, who responded with the first century of the final as you go. to extend its advantage to four frames.
But just like in his semi-final, when he snagged the last eight frames to beat Kyren Wilson, Murphy upped his back-to-wall game, a stunning 100 dropping him to 13-10, and a bright long red helping. him on the line in the next one.
The pomp with which Murphy praised his arrears reduction turned out to be premature, as Selby gleefully brushed off a long red of Murphy’s bad breakup in the next picture, and his subsequent 62 years ultimately proved to be enough to leave the Leicester man in full control.
It was the same story at the start of the evening session, as Murphy started out with a spectacular long red, then inflated the simpler of the roses in the middle, leaving Selby to shoot a 66 and move through all three frames for the win. to 15-11.
The fans, each wearing protective masks, were kept on the edge of their seats by the confrontation
The pair split the next two frames, then a courageous 58 from Murphy sent him in for the final mid-session still harboring a silver lining at 16-13.
Selby had other ideas, delivering his second century of the Finals with a flawless 120 to move into a winning frame.
However, Murphy threatened a final twist as he responded with consecutive breaks of 100 and 103 to reduce the deficit to 17-15 and increase the prospect of a remarkable retaliation.
He almost took another after Selby broke down on a 38 break in the next, but a tough red on the pad proved a step too far, and Selby duly cleared to go side to side. coast with Higgins on the whole. time list.
Murphy paid tribute to Selby by telling the BBC: ‘He’s just super granite. Unfortunately for me, I’ve known him since we were nine and he’s always been the same.
Murphy threatened one last twist in the match but was ultimately called off by Selby
“ I started the game well and he just went into super hard mode and broke me last night – that was a tough lead to give him overnight in a game of this caliber and that probably helped makes the difference. ”
Selby said: “ Absolutely amazing – whenever you get to a world final you always do your best because it’s such a tough tournament to get there and you never know if it will be your last or not.
“ Shaun played fantastic throughout the game and he’s a great player and ambassador for the game and it’s great to see him again.
“ A few years ago I had some really, really dark days and times were tough, obviously the whole family will understand what I’m going through so it’s been special. ”
Selby’s victory brought him back to No.2 in the world ranking and he added: ‘My goal is to try to get back to No.1, you still have huge goals in your career and I’m going in the right direction. direction. ”