Snooker - Selby edges Robertson to set up O'Sullivan final

Mark Selby will face defending champion Ronnie O'Sullivan in the World Championship final after overcoming Neil Robertson 17-15 in an epic semi-final.

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Snooker - Selby edges Robertson to set up O'Sullivan final
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Neil Roberson and Mark Selby

Selby won five out of eight frames against world number one Robertson on Saturday night after the duo had resumed level at 12-12 at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre.

A run of 74 allowed Robertson to edge 13-12 clear, but it would be the last time he would lead as a 79 saw Selby level at 13-13.

The Leicester man collected the 27th frame only for Roberson to level at 14-14 with a run of 53.

Selby stuck his foot on the gas when they resumed after the mid-session interval as clinical breaks of 77 and 54 enabled him to move 16-14 clear.

A 103rd century of the season from Robertson of 108 hinted at another revival late in the match, but Selby pieced together 74 to finish off the spirited Australian.

Missing a black in a hopeless situation playing on for snookers triggered the concession from 2010 world champion Robertson with both players embracing after an exacting slog of tactical play between two evenly matched competitors that ran for over 12 hours.

THIRD SESSION

Neil Robertson recovered from trailing 10-7 and 12-10 to level at 12-12 in a gruelling World Championship semi-final with Mark Selby at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre.

The winner will face world champion Ronnie O'Sullivan in the best-of-35 frame final on Sunday and Monday for the old trophy and a £300,000 cheque.

Some will argue O'Sullivan is already a winner having avoided the mentally draining nature of such a match by beating Barry Hawkins 17-7 with a session to spare on Friday. He has the luxury of Saturday off to prepare for the final.

Australia's world number one Robertson began the day 9-7 adrift in the best-of-33 frame match, and quickly watched his opponent increase his lead to three frames with a run of 104. Robertson's reply was to contribute 85 in the 18th frame before the 2010 world champion managed to eke out two elongated tactical frames that seemed likely to last forever to restore parity at 12-12.

It was fitting that former world champion Cliff 'The Grinder' Thorburn was in the arena as the mid-session interval came with the four frames of the third session taking over two hours to complete.

Selby emerged from his dressing room looking the sprightlier figure despite suffering those mental blows as he gathered his senses to pick up frames 21 and 22 to replenish his two-frame advantage.

It included a break of 73 in the 21st frame after Robertson had looked likely to lead for the first time since 2-1 only to break down on 36. Selby could have stolen the 23rd frame for a 12-11 advantage after Robertson made 64 but missed a tricky plant to a centre pocket. Selby responded but his hopes faded on 39 when he missed a tough yellow having failed to achieve suitable position from the black.

It was hardly surprising to see Robertson win the final frame of the session with an important 40 to leave matters delicately poised before they play to a finish from 7pm on Saturday evening.

With the target 17 frames and a possible nine more frames to be played in the fourth session, there is every prospect of a late conclusion to this exacting contest. The winner will face world champion Ronnie O'Sullivan in the best-of-35 frame final on Sunday and Monday for the old trophy and a £300,000 cheque.

Some will argue O'Sullivan is already a winner having avoided the mentally draining nature of such a match by beating Barry Hawkins 17-7 with a session to spare on Friday. He has the luxury of Saturday off to prepare for the final.

Australia's world number one Robertson began the day 9-7 adrift in the best-of-33 frame match, and quickly watched his opponent increase his lead to three frames with a run of 104.

Robertson's reply was to contribute 85 in the 18th frame before the 2010 world champion managed to eke out two elongated tactical frames that seemed likely to last forever to restore parity at 12-12.

It was fitting that former world champion Cliff 'The Grinder' Thorburn was in the arena as the mid-session interval came with the four frames of the third session taking over two hours to complete. Selby emerged from his dressing room looking the sprightlier figure despite suffering those mental blows as he gathered his senses to pick up frames 21 and 22 to replenish his two-frame advantage.

It included a break of 73 in the 21st frame after Robertson had looked likely to lead for the first time since 2-1 only to break down on 36. Selby could have stolen the 23rd frame for a 12-11 advantage after Robertson made 64 but missed a tricky plant to a centre pocket.

Selby responded but his hopes faded on 39 when he missed a tough yellow having failed to achieve suitable position from the black.

It was hardly surprising to see Robertson win the final frame of the session with an important 40 to leave matters delicately poised before they play to a finish from 7pm on Saturday evening. With the target 17 frames and a possible nine more frames to be played in the fourth session, there is every prospect of a late conclusion to this exacting contest.

SECOND SESSION

Mark Selby leads 9-7 but blew a golden chance to open up a four-frame lead over Neil Robertson after missing a simple black.

Selby lost the first two frames of a taut session of grim matchplay snooker as Australia's 2010 world champion recovered from trailing 5-3 overnight to level at 5-5 - including a sparkling 113 in the tenth frame - but the man from Leicester won the four of the next five frames to lead 9-6.

Breaks of 53, 72 and 64 helped him on his way towards retaining his advantage heading into Saturday's play. The lead looked certain to be 10-6 in the final frame of the second session when Selby meandered easily to 53 only to jaw a black off the spot.

Despite being hindered by the black winding up safe on the top cushion, Melbourne's Robertson steeled himself superbly by taking reds and pinks on his way to mopping up to the pink with a 61 run that could yet prove priceless when the destination of this match is decided.

The former Masters winners embark upon their third session of eight frames from 10am on Saturday morning before playing to a finish from 7pm on Saturday night. Ronnie O'Sullivan leads Barry Hawkins 11-5 in the other semi-final.

FIRST SESSION

Neil Robertson produced his 101st century of the season, but he trails Mark Selby 5-3 in their World Championship semi-final at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre.

Austraia's 2010 world champion Robertson finished with a sparkling break of 130 after Selby had displayed some of his typical tactical nous to erect a 5-2 lead having fallen 2-1 behind early on. Selby showed he meant business with an opening run of 65, but a break of 54 was not enough in the second frame as missing a red along the top cushion enabled Robertson to pinch the frame on the black aided by two sublime pots on the yellow and green.

Both men had chances in the third frame, but Selby could not quite reel Robertson in.

Despite twice getting the snookers he needed to win the frame after Robertson had earlier jawed a red, Robertson potted the balls he needed on the colours to prevail. Selby - who lost in the 2007 final to Scotland's John Higgins - ran in a gorgeous break of 133 to restore parity in levelleing at 2-2 at the mid-session interval before picking up the next three frames that included a fine 72 in the seventh frame.

But Robertson's finishing century contribution a night after his 100th century of the season in his quarter-final win over Judd Trump keeps him in touch when the pair resume for their second session at 2:30pm on Friday afternoon with their final two sessions due on Saturday morning and Saturday night.

With two centuries so far in the opening eight frames, it is not surprising that these men occupy place in the all-time top 10 list of century makers. Robertson is fifth in the list having made 359 with Selby occupying seventh place with 336. Stephen Hendry remains first on 775, 33 ahead of second-placed Ronnie O'Sullivan.

Thursday, 1 May

Semi-finals (Best of 33 frames)

13:00

Ronnie O'Sullivan (Eng) 6-2 Barry Hawkins (Eng)

19:00

Mark Selby (Eng) 5-3 Neil Robertson (Aus)

Friday, 2 May

Semi-finals (Best of 33 frames)

10:00

Ronnie O'Sullivan (Eng) 11-5 Barry Hawkins (Eng)

14:30

Mark Selby (Eng) 9-7 Neil Robertson (Aus)

19:00

Ronnie O'Sullivan (Eng) 17-7 Barry Hawkins (Eng)

Saturday, 3 May

Semi-finals (Best of 33 frames)

10:00

Mark Selby (Eng) 12-12 Neil Robertson (Aus)

19:00

Mark Selby (Eng) 17-15 Neil Robertson (Aus)

Sunday, 4 May

Final (best of 35 frames)

14:00

Ronnie O'Sullivan (Eng) v Mark Selby (Eng)

19:00

Ronnie O'Sullivan (Eng) v Mark Selby (Eng)

Monday, 5 May

Final (best of 35 frames)

14:00

Ronnie O'Sullivan (Eng) v Mark Selby (Eng)

19:00

Ronnie O'Sullivan (Eng) v Mark Selby (Eng)

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