Finals

Mark Selby is the World Champion

Mark Selby is a two-time world champion after beating Ding Junhui 18-14 in an entertaining final at the Crucible.

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Selby compiled two tons in the final.

The 32 year-old joins Stephen Hendry, Steve Davis, Ronnie O’Sullivan, John Higgins and Mark Williams as multiple winners in Sheffield.

It was a superb final that ebbed and flowed throughout, with both competitors producing an excellent standard.

However, Ding, the first Asian to feature in a World Championship final, could never quite recover after nervously losing the opening six frames of the contest.

The Chinese no.1 twice got to within one frame but couldn’t manage to draw level as Selby inevitably had the answer at the pivotal moments.

Resuming for the fourth and final session 14-11 in front, 2014 champion Selby won both of the first two frames, the second of which courtesy of a terrific thin final black with the rest to go 16-11 ahead.

Yet, Ding continued to respond valiantly and knocked in three big breaks to pull back to just 16-14 down.

But every time he got close, a granite-like Selby dug deep to ensure that parity never ensued.

The world no.1, maintaining his position at the top of the rankings thanks to his triumph, won a key penultimate frame that lasted almost an hour – one of many tense exchanges like that – to go to the brink of the title.

Ding would have been looking for another chance to reply but he never got it, Selby compiling a nerveless 74 in the last to seal the victory.

It’s a sorry conclusion to a marvelous championship for Ding, who started his journey way back in the opening round of the qualifiers at the start of April.

He came up just short on this occasion but, knocking in 15 centuries along the way, dispelled the doubts that surrounded him and his ambitions of contending at the big one.

The 11-time ranking event winner will no doubt be back for another tilt at capturing the crown but, conversely, so will champion Selby.

Just how many can he now go on to win?

The ‘Jester from Leicester’, who confirmed his success just moments after his hometown city completed their own magical Premier League history, has now a brace of world titles, each won 18-14 against two of the sport’s modern greats in the finals.

In 2016, Selby prevailed by arguably never producing his A-game, which is a testament to his all-round ability in each area of the game.

Many detractors label him as slow or boring, but he is neither; his pedigree and will to win ought to be appreciated at the highest level.

Selby collects £330,000 for his efforts but the money will come secondary to the achievements he has amassed.

With deals with BBC and Eurosport announced, as well as the gratifying news today that the blue riband championship will remain in Sheffield for the next 11 years, snooker is in a healthy state.

With cueists like Selby and Ding at the forefront of the game, it is surely only going to grow from strength to strength.

For now, though, Selby will be able to revel in the fact that he is the king of the Crucible once again.

Deservedly so.

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