Mark Selby has won the 2012 United Kingdom Championship after a gruelling 10-6 victory over fellow Englishman Shaun Murphy in York.
The encounter always had the potential to be a close one and so it proved to be with the four-frame margin not truly representative of a gripping, if low quality, final.
The high breaks were not free-flowing, indeed there were no centuries over the course of the entire clash with a brace of 98s between them topping the scoring charts, but there was drama in almost every frame as frequently they went down to the colours.
The match began under scrappy circumstances and continued in similar vein throughout.
Murphy had the better of the opening exchanges and, despite going 2-1 down, appeared set to stamp his authority on the contest by claiming the subsequent three frames to establish a two-frame cushion at 4-2.
But the 2008 champion wasted gilt-edged opportunities in the next two frames which Selby duly took to end the first session with honours even.
And so it continued into the evening’s play where the duo could not establish a firm foothold on proceedings with both unable to consistently find any sort of lasting rhythm.
The opening frame of the second session was superb as Selby knocked in an early break of 58 only to lose it on a 65 clearance from his opponent but from then on the breaks became increasingly patchy and the frames progressively longer.
At 6-6 it seemed like there was going to be a very long night ahead but, even though it climaxed just after midnight, there was only to be four more frames following the last mid-session interval.
The crucial turning point came in the 15th frame when, at 8-6 down, Murphy missed a straightforward blue off its spot when on a clearance to reduce his arrears to one once more.
The botched attempt was reminiscent of Willie Thorne’s infamous howler 27 years ago and the look on the ‘Magician’s’ face said it all – the match was as good as over.
The pair traded blows again in another scrappy frame that followed, and which proved to be the last, but Selby at this stage looked composed and was clearly ready for his maiden major ranking event title.
The brilliant triumph caps what has been a difficult year for the ‘Jester from Leicester’.
While he started it as the world no.1, he lost in the final of the Welsh Open in February, leading many critics to question his inability to transform consistency into silverware.
Soon after, he suffered from a neck and back injury that forced him to pull out of the China Open and lose heavily in the first round of the World Championship amid concerns his best days may have been behind him.
But he was able to manage the pain this season and, despite briefly losing his status at the top of the rankings table, he is now back on top of the pile with the added pleasure of being able to boast a UK crown.
Selby will continue to attract criticism from certain quarters and he may never be one of the most popular players on the circuit but his attitude, temperament and overall ability cannot be questioned – especially now.
For Murphy, it was a case of one step too far in York. He already dodged major bullets in the last 8 against Luca Brecel and in his semi-final classic with Ali Carter.
In truth, he had many, many chances to come out the victor today and he’ll probably feel that it is a big missed opportunity but he simply couldn’t reproduce his A-game when it mattered most.
The final itself rather mimicked the tournament in general – not of the highest standard but continuously played out under the most dramatic circumstances.
Congratulations to Mark Selby – the 2012 UK champion.
The full draw can be viewed by clicking here.