Selby admits result 'irrelevant' after first round victory

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Mark Selby was 'relieved' to come through his first-round encounter at the Crucible after seven weeks off the table.
Mark Selby was 'relieved' to come through his first-round encounter at the Crucible after seven weeks off the table.

Mark Selby said the result of his World Snooker Championship opener was ‘irrelevant’ after surviving a scare to beat Jamie Jones 10-7 on the opening day in Sheffield, writes Ben Parsons.

Defending champion Selby, 38, held off a spirited comeback from the Welshman to stay on course for a fifth Crucible crown.

The Jester fired three centuries but was made to work hard by resilient qualifier Jones in his first match in nearly seven weeks.

Selby revealed in the build-up that he considered not defending his world title after battling mental health problems this year.

He had taken an extended break from the table after saying he ‘needs help’ when opening up on his issues in January and only had one week of practice ahead of his title defence.

Selby is not placing any expectations on a deep Crucible run this year but was relieved to overcome rustiness as he returned to a rousing reception on the first day of the Sheffield showpiece.

Selby said: “Six or seven weeks ago, when I was needing to work on myself, I wasn’t really sure back whether I was going to play in the World Championship.

“The result for me today was irrelevant. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to win but it was a matter of just playing and trying to enjoy it.

“It was quite emotional out there. I had to hold it in a bit. Normally I come to tournaments quite confident with my ability but with everything I’ve been through over the last few months it’s been quite tough.

“To perform to a reasonably high level and come through a tough game, it was more like relief than anything else.”

Selby was sluggish in the early stages but found his rhythm to build on a healthy 6-3 morning advantage by taking the opening two frames of the evening session.

Jones renewed faint hope by winning a nervy frame on the final black before reducing the deficit to two at 8-6.

Selby showed his supreme quality with a vintage 137 total clearance to put himself on the brink but Jones again responded to seal his fourth frame in five.

However, the four-time champion held his nerve to secure a second-round clash with either Yan Bingtao or Chris Wakelin, with Jones left to rue low-scoring as a result of an errant cue ball.

Jones said: “There’s too much pressure and you have to make things simple. I didn’t do that today.

“I fought on and I showed heart so I can be proud of myself that I stuck in there. I can take something forward that I stuck in there with the world champion.”

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