Mark Selby leaves it late to seal place in world final
Four-time champion Mark Selby came through a late-night battle with Mark Allen to set up a World Snooker Championship final with Crucible history maker Luca Brecel.
The 39-year-old was embroiled in a tense thriller with the Northern Irishman, eventually getting over the line with a 17-15 victory at 12.48am on Sunday morning – just 12 hours before the final is due to start.
Selby, who last won the tournament in 2021, probably thought he would have been done and dusted much earlier as five successive frames at the start of Saturday’s evening session put him one away from victory shortly before 10pm.
𝗦𝗘𝗟𝗕𝗬 𝗛𝗔𝗦 𝗗𝗢𝗡𝗘 𝗜𝗧!
Mark Selby beats Mark Allen 17-15 to reach his sixth world final!
The Jester from Leicester will go for his fifth Crucible crown over the next two days. #CazooWorldChampionship pic.twitter.com/7xDLdpHi5D
— World Snooker Tour (@WeAreWST) April 29, 2023
Yet, he had to wait the best part of three hours before potting the final ball as Allen hit back with five successive frames of his own and threatened to take it even deeper into the night.
Selby said: “I was just happy to get over the line, I felt I played well from 11-10 to 16-10 and then missed a couple of chances.
“At 16-15 he probably goes favourite because he had the momentum. It means everything to be back, I want to try and win it now I’m in the final.
“I don’t feel too bad right now, but I haven’t been sleeping too well while I’ve been here. If I don’t sleep well tonight there is something wrong.
“Luca will be fresh, he has had a night off, but if it means I only get 10 hours and playing in the World Championship final, I’d rather have that than have 24 hours off and be driving home.”
While Selby will have a quick turnaround before Sunday’s final, Brecel will have been tucked up and relaxed after he created history earlier in the day in his semi-final win over Si Jiahui.
The Belgian, who conquered Ronnie O’Sullivan in the quarter-final, produced the largest comeback at the famous Sheffield venue, winning 11 frames on the spin to turn a 14-5 deficit into a 17-14 victory.
He became the first player in Crucible history to overturn a nine-frame deficit and booked his first World Championship final, having never previously got past the first round.
Brecel said of his miraculous recovery against the 20-year-old Chinese debutant: “At 14-12, 14-13 I knew I had a chance, but I think 14-14 I was really believing it because I could see he was struggling and I was playing great stuff.
“But I knew I could have lost as well. To win is absolutely unbelievable, it is the biggest game of my life. I was in disbelief, I was shaking.
“The whole game I was expecting to lose, even with a session to spare, so to even have a chance to win was the craziest feeling ever in my body and I can’t believe I did it.
“I have never won a game here and now I am in the final, it is some story. It is going to take a while to sink in.”