Snooker - Selby back at number one with UK semi win over Davis

Mark Selby will contest the first all-English final in the UK Championship since 1992 after a 9-4 semi-final win over Mark Davis at York's Barbican Centre confirmed his return to the world number one spot.


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Interestingly enough for a sport that is sometimes berated due to its traditional dominance by British and Irish players, Selby's match with Shaun Murphy on Sunday will be the first time two players from England have contested the UK final since Jimmy White overcame John Parrott 16-9 two decades ago.

"It is a great feat get back to world number one. When I was there before, I put a lot of pressure on myself," said Selby, who knocked Judd Trump off his perch after the Bristol player surprisingly lost 6-5 to Mark Joyce in the first round.

Murphy leads 8-5 in the head-to-head meetings between the pair. He is bidding for a second UK title to go with his 2005 World Championship success and 2008 UK win while Selby hopes to add his first UK gong to his two wins at the Masters in 2008 and 2010.

The world, UK and Masters are traditionally recognised as the biggest events on the snooker calendar.

"We came up together through the junior ranks," said Selby ahead of his latest meeting with his friend Murphy, the world number four. "There is nothing better than facing each other in a major final."

Selby strangely struggled to stagger over the finishing line against Davis despite never being subjected to any real pressure.

He resumed holding a 6-2 lead. That quickly became 7-2 when Davis somehow surrendered a lead of 43-0 by missing an easy red as Selby returned to the table to contribute a 64 that proved telling.

Davis broke down on 50 in the tenth frame after missing a black, but Selby would jaw a red down a side cushion with the rest to give Davis a reprieve that he gladly accepted.

A 76 from Selby held sway in earning Selby an 8-3 advantage, but there were no jokes when the man dubbed the 'Jester from Leicester' blew at least three obvious chances in the 12th frame as Davis doubled the final blue to extend the match beyond the mid-session interval.

Both men had several chances in a fairly turgid 13th frame before Selby finally crawled over the finishing line having ran in an earlier 41.

Selby is an 8/11 favourite to win the best-of-19 frames final (2.30pm start GMT) with Murphy coming in at 11/10, but Murphy completed a 6-2 win over Selby in the last eight of the Masters 11 months ago.

Murphy certainly looked the stronger man in the last four as he ousted Ali Carter 9-8 having recovered from falling 8-4 behind.

"I know that I need to play better tomorrow," said Selby. "And score better."

First session report

Mark Selby needs three more frames to reach the UK Championship final after opening up a 6-2 lead over Mark Davis in their semi-final at York's Barbican Centre.

Davis - the world number 16 from Hastings - had several chances in the opening four frames, but could win only one of them as former world number one Selby, now second in the rankings behind Judd Trump, led 3-1 at the mid-session interval despite only showing flashes of his true form.

It was a similar story when the pair resumed with Leicester's Selby collecting three out of the next four frames to leave himself three frames short of a meeting with his old friend Shaun Murphy in the best-of-19 frame final on Sunday.

Davis and Selby play to a finish from 7pm on Saturday evening with Davis seeking inspiration from Murphy's recovery in the opening semi-final against Ali Carter.

The 2005 world champion snagged the final fives frames to complete a 9-8 success over a dazed Carter.

Davis - who ousted former UK champions John Higgins and Matthew Stevens on his way to the last four - will have to break new ground if he is to reach the final of the sport's second biggest ranking event behind the World Championship having lost to Selby in all of their previous six meetings on the circuit.

The pattern of the afternoon was established when Davis missed a blue to a middle bag after holing an exceptional long red as Selby pieced together 48 to pocket the opening frame.

A missed red by Davis in the second frame when he hit another before the object ball was so costly as Selby returned to the table to piece together 121 to lead 2-0. Both men had chances in the third frame, but Selby scrambled over the line for a 3-0 lead aided by an earlier 41.

A 76 from Davis saw him halt the bleeding in winning his first frame of the day, but he was forced to sit and suffer some more with Selby edging a scrappy fifth frame before a knock of 81 carried him 5-1 clear.

Davis was appearing in his second semi-final of the year having reached the last four of the Wuxi Classic, but could not inject any fluency into his play.

Selby looked likely to move 6-1 ahead as he opened with a 49 only to miss a brown at pace as he tried to force his way back to the reds having wound up facing the wrong angle on the blue. Davis showed his resolve with a splendid 80 enabling him to win his second frame of the match.

But he would not sink a ball in the final frame of the session as a 51 from Selby helped the former Masters champion secure a four-frame advantage before they play to a finish this evening.

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