Mark Selby turns the tables on John Higgins in Crucible final
World number one dominates on Monday afternoon to move into a two frame lead
Mark Selby dominated the Monday afternoon session to lead John Higgins by two frames in the World Championship final. Photograph: Paul Ellis/Getty
The world number one and defending champion began the second day of the title match trailing by 10-7 but bustled his way to a lead of 13-11.
That left him requiring five frames in the evening to land the trophy for a third time in four years, while shell-shocked Higgins needed to pick himself up from the jolt of losing nine of the last 10 frames.
Selby had trailed 10-4 at one stage on Sunday, looking exhausted after a gruelling semi-final against Ding Junhui, and Higgins appeared all set for a fifth world title of his illustrious career.
But just as he came back from 10-5 adrift to beat Ronnie O’Sullivan in the 2014 final, Selby dug deep again. The three frames he won consecutively to slash the lead on Sunday night — followed by a Selby fist pump — created a blueprint for Monday’s pattern of play.
When the frames became scrappy, it was Selby’s safety play that prevailed where previously Higgins was winning the tactical battles. Selby was happy to make the frames scrappy too, getting into the mind of his opponent.
And when the chances came his way, Selby was taking them rather than producing the errors that scarred his game early in the match. He ended the session with breaks of 67, 58 and 72 in consecutive frames, as Higgins stewed in his seat.
O’Sullivan wrote on Twitter: “If john Higgins can’t beat selby at the crucible then no one can”
Further twists in the plot could not be discounted, but another world title for Selby would reinforce the sense we are deep into an era of domination by the 33-year-old Leicester cueman.
His triumph last year came on the same night that Leicester City won the Premier League title, and consequently it slipped under many a radar, with even Selby distracted by his beloved football team’s success.
Selby and Higgins are playing for the trophy and a £375,000 top prize. And if Higgins drags himself off the ropes to make it close, there was the possibility of a late-night finish in store.