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Page last updated at 23:33 GMT, Sunday, 17 February 2008

Selby comeback stuns O'Sullivan

Mark Selby
Selby pocketed 35,000 for his Welsh Open win

Mark Selby completed a memorable comeback to beat Ronnie O'Sullivan in the Welsh Open final on Sunday.

The Leicester man battled back from 8-5 down to beat O'Sullivan 9-8 at the Newport Centre and claim his first world ranking title.

The 24-year-old, who won the Wembley Masters last month, admitted he had surprised himself by his recent form.

"Who'd have thought this?" he said. "Eighteen months ago I was still in the qualifiers at Prestatyn."

O'Sullivan began the contest as favourite to clinch his 20th ranking victory, a milestone only previously achieved by Stephen Hendry (36) and Steve Davis (28).

And while he was gracious in defeat, he also took a swipe at Selby's style of play.

I thought Ronnie was going to run away with it

Mark Selby

He said: "I play an attacking game and try to grab it by the scruff of the neck. I got away with it early on but Mark was very tactical.

"I don't know if Mark's talented; he plays a very negative game. He doesn't take a ball on unless he's going to leave it safe.

"It makes him tough to play because you know you're in for long frames and long bouts of safety.

"It's hard to get a rhythm against someone like that, but I can't grumble because I had my chances."


Selby, beaten in three of his four previous meetings with O'Sullivan, confessed that his tactics had been key to the victory.

He said: "Overall I think scoring-wise Ronnie was obviously the better player. I wasn't scoring but my safety play kept me in it.

"I didn't play as good as I did in the Masters final, but I had to go to plan B and thankfully I came through."

When Selby fell 8-5 behind he was convinced he had no chance of winning.

He added: "I thought Ronnie was going to run away with it, but I nicked a good frame to go 6-5. Then it was 8-5.

"Against Ronnie if you give him a one-frame lead he will go and steamroller it, so to give him four frames I thought there was no chance."

Selby enjoyed the best of the early exchanges, compiling a 77 break in the first frame then producing a 39 clearance to steal the second on the black for a 2-0 lead.

O'Sullivan finally came to life with a run of 50 in the third and drew level at 2-2 heading into the mid-session interval with a clearance to blue in the fourth.

Those opening four frames took an hour and 34 minutes to complete and the exchanges remained equally bogged down after the restart.

During the fifth, which Selby won thanks primarily to a 51 break, O'Sullivan was twice spotted mouthing "I'm bored."

But he retained sufficient patience and concentration to secure an extremely scrappy sixth frame, which dragged on for 32 minutes, on the brown.

There was then further stalemate as the seventh and eighth frames were re-racked by referee Eirian Williams after a tactical impasse in both.

Each of the afternoon's closing two frames featured sizeable contributions - 75 and 60 from Selby to regain the advantage at 4-3 and a 108 from O'Sullivan to tie up the scores heading into the concluding session.

Breaks of 93 and 135 made it 6-4 in only 18 minutes as O'Sullivan took control, but world number five Selby kept himself in touch with a pressure clearance of 72 to reduce his arrears.

O'Sullivan immediately hit back with a 63 break to make sure of the 11th frame, leaving him needing two frames for victory.

He took the next thanks to a 54 break, but Selby rallied to make it 8-6 after pinching the 14th frame.

And the Midlands man pulled even closer with a 62 break to trail by just one frame, before forcing a decider by winning the 18th frame by 14 points

Selby then pocketed a cool 48 break in the decider to lead by 30 points and, after O'Sullivan missed an ambitious double, the Leicester cueman held his nerve to close out the win.

see also
Welsh Open: Previous winners
14 Jan 05 |  Snooker

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