It took until the stroke of midnight but Mark Selby eventually overcame the challenge of defending champion Neil Robertson to claim his third Masters title – winning by a scoreline of 10-6.
World no.1 Selby had come into the final on Sunday as second favourite after a week in which he had produced inconsistent performances, the latest of which being an elongated 6-5 thriller over Graeme Dott that went into the early hours of Sunday morning.
By contrast, Australia’s Robertson had gone from strength to strength in a week where he had seen off a hat-trick of tricky obstacles in Ding Junhui, Mark Allen and Shaun Murphy.
However, Selby seemed the fresher and more settled of the pair from the outset and immediately gained a foothold in the tie by taking the opening three frames with breaks of 73 and 102.
At 5-1 it looked like the ‘Jester from Leicester’ was going to run away with it completely but the reigning champion dug deep to take the two last frames of the first session with breaks of 63 and 72 to reduce the gap to only two.
At that point the encounter was still in the balance but Robertson started off the evening’s play the exact same as he had earlier in the day by dropping three successive frames to drop even further behind at 8-3.
Selby was playing well but he didn’t need to reach anywhere near top gear as he was able to feed off the mistakes from his lackluster opponent.
With breaks of 74 and 83, 30 year-old Robertson finally gained some sort of foothold on proceedings to claw his way back to 8-6, and it seemed like he may have been putting pressure on Selby’s push for the trophy.
However, a fluke in the 15th frame for Selby proved pivotal and after taking that frame he completed the success in the next for a 10-6 triumph.
The result means that Selby has now won back-to-back major titles after he etched his name on the UK Championship trophy in York for the first time only last month.
It also ensures that the 29 year-old will go to the Crucible next April in the knowledge that he could join an elite band of players who have won the Triple Crown of majors in a single season.
Critics still question the merit of Selby’s achievements and whether or not he deserves the status as the world’s best player.
Well, he is the world’s best player because he has performed brilliantly in ranking tournaments over the last couple of seasons.
Before December the attacks on his lack of silverware may have been justified to some level but not now.
Selby has proved that he can win by playing his best, but perhaps more importantly he has this week underlined how dangerous he can be when playing his B-game – very reminiscent of a certain John Higgins, who many draw comparisons with.
It was only a short time ago when it appeared that it was going to be Higgins and Judd Trump out on their own battling for major honours but Selby has quashed that theory by stamping his authority at the top of the sport once and for all – for the moment at least.
The fact that he has now won the invitational Masters event, which of course is played against only the elite top 16 players in the world, three times in six appearances cements his ability to compete with the best on the planet.
For Robertson, it was a disappointing end to what was overall a good week for the Melbourne man.
The safety side of his game was markedly poor in the final and there were times when he perhaps substituted defense for attack at the wrong moments.
Nevertheless, the tournament belongs to Selby and it will be interesting to see if he can continue his run at the German Masters – a country he has already won twice in during this campaign already.