Selby beats Higgins 18-15, retains world snooker title

Mark Selby thought he was dead and buried in the Betfred World Championship final before staging the spectacular comeback that brought him a third title.

There was still time for one last frame in what was another gripping session at The Crucible, and a break of 72 helped Selby make it nine from the last 10 to take a two-frame advantage going into the final session.

Here is a transcript of the conversation involving Verhaas, Selby and Higgins.

"I'm only 33 but I feel about 53", Selby said after a draining semi-final win against Ding Junhui on Saturday.

Selby clawed his way back from 10-4 down to come away with an 18-15 victory, wrapping up a third title in four years. "I still think I can come back next year and give it a good show".

Higgins, asked about the black-ball controversy, said: "Sometimes it's not black and white I suppose". "If you lose, you want to at least go down fighting". "Big congratulations to John".

Four-time former champion Higgins, who is the oldest finalist since 49-year-old Ray Reardon lost to Alex Higgins in 1982, had predicted before the match began that Selby could one day match a World Championship record.

But, this was different.

It took Selby into the mid-session interval with 12 of the last 14 frames, scoring 1059 points compared to Higgins' 308. However, Selby showed enormous mental strength to make a 131 clearance and move within one frame of the championship.

"Everyone has blips in their career where they go through bad patches and John's been no different", said Selby.

Trailing 10-4, it looked terminal, but somehow he raised his game, breaks of 81 and 121 helping to cut the deficit to 10-7 overnight. That moment looked to play on Selby's mind and a flurry of mistakes opened the frame for another Higgins response.

In the second Higgins was in control from the start as Selby struggled with a safety despite a massive fluke on a red.

Higgins, at 41 bidding to become the oldest victor of the showcase event since Ray Reardon won aged 45 in 1978, ended up being a virtual bystander on Monday. Higgins' only success came with frame twenty where he made a break of 78.

But Selby had the scent of revenge in his nostrils yesterday, the pair trading the first two frames of the evening.

Higgins played in his first Crucible final back in 1998. I don't know how I managed to win those three frames, because before that I was shattered.

Selby may have joined this battle late, but he trailed Ronnie O'Sullivan by the same margin after day one of their 2014 final and turned that match around to triumph. On the second day's play, Selby proved to be almost unstoppable.

It was a decision which could have upset less experienced players, but Selby was unruffled.

Mark Selby, one, then.

"He's granite", Higgins said. In the second session I had my chances, I missed a pink into the middle bag and I could have gone 9-3 ahead. That might not be the difference but it was a big, big frame, and Mark did what he always does and cleared up under pressure. He's a fantastic champion.

"I think I acquitted myself well in this tournament", added Higgins.

He had won four ranking titles this season, including the UK Championship, and his victory against Higgins will cement his reputation as one of the greatest snooker players of all time.



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