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Page last updated at 09:19 GMT, Friday, 16 April 2010 10:19 UK

Selby says O'Sullivan is World Championship favourite

World Snooker Championship
Date: 17 April-3 May Venue: Crucible Theatre, Sheffield
Coverage: Live coverage each day on BBC Two, BBC Red Button and BBC Sport website (UK only), updates on BBC Radio 5 Live. Full TV schedule

By Ben Dirs

Mark Selby (right) and Ronnie O'Sullivan
Selby (right) beat O'Sullivan 10-9 in the final of the Masters

Mark Selby says three-time winner Ronnie O'Sullivan will be the man to beat at the World Championship, which starts in Sheffield on Saturday.

Selby staged a thrilling comeback to beat O'Sullivan 10-9 in the final of the Masters in January.

"Ronnie is Ronnie, he's untouchable at times," said world number seven Selby, a beaten finalist in 2007.

"The man's a genius, when his mind's on the job he's more or less unbeatable, every tournament he's the favourite."

After the Masters final, O'Sullivan wrote off Selby's chances of winning at the Crucible, saying the 26-year-old suffered from the same inconsistency as himself.

"I'm too hot and cold to go in with any confidence in doing it," said O'Sullivan. "I don't think Selby has the game either to win a world title because of the same reasons."

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Selby, who starts his campaign with a first-round match against 1997 winner Ken Doherty on Saturday, agrees his form has fluctuated this season, but he still believes he can claim his first world title in Sheffield.

"Every tournament I go to I'm confident of winning, it would be pointless if I didn't think I could win," said the former Welsh Open champion, who lost in the second round of the recent China Open.

"I started off the season quite poor and I've come on a bit stronger in the last few tournaments, whereas other players have been a lot more consistent and proven their games are in good shape for the majority of the season.

"Ronnie's the best player out there and to beat him in a major final [the Masters] was sweet, especially in London where's he's had a lot of success and has a lot of support, that made it a lot better.

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"When Ronnie does turn up you've got to be on the top of your game to beat him, and when he doesn't turn up even his 'B' game is very, very good and means he's hard to beat.

"You watch him sometimes and you think, 'he's not really on his game, he's struggling', and the next thing you know he goes on and wins the tournament."

O'Sullivan, 34, gets his tournament under way with a first-round tie against China's Liang Wenbo on Monday.

Meanwhile, Selby has urged his fellow professionals to rubber-stamp Barry Hearn's blueprint for change in the sport when they meet on 5 May.

Changes proposed by the new chairman of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association include increased prize money and more tournaments, with a 12-event Player Tour Championship culminating in a 24-man Players' Championship and a pro-am World Open, which would replace the existing Grand Prix.

Other proposals include a single-frame, on-the-clock event, a two-week qualifying school and the involvement of other broadcasters besides the BBC.

Selby said: "How he [Hearn] has turned around darts has been fantastic. If you'd have told me seven or eight years ago that darts would be bigger than snooker I'd have laughed at you. But look at it now, it's one of the biggest sports on TV.

Preparations pick up pace at Crucible

"Something needs to change, we need to liven it up a bit more. If I was paying 20 quid to watch snooker I wouldn't want to just sit there and not be able to talk or do anything, I'd want entertainment and value for money.

"[But] I'd say Europe has overtaken the UK as far as popularity goes. In Europe it's booming, it seems to be the place to be. Whether I'm playing in Russia, Germany or Poland, it's absolutely huge."



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see also
Prosecutors consider bet charges
15 Apr 10 |  Snooker
Higgins to open Crucible defence
17 Apr 10 |  Snooker
Higgins nervous ahead of Crucible
13 Apr 10 |  Snooker
O'Sullivan handed tricky opener
11 Mar 10 |  Snooker
Davis & Taylor stage 1985 rematch
29 Apr 10 |  Snooker
Latest scores and order of play
20 Apr 10 |  Snooker
World Championship draw
15 Apr 10 |  Snooker


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