Mark Allen Stuns Selby Again

Mark Allen got the better of Mark Selby in a thrilling decider for a second successive week to reach the semi-finals of the Champion of Champions in Coventry.

Mark Allen CofC
Allen lost to Neil Robertson in the 2015 final – photo courtesy of Monique Limbos.

The Northern Irishman’s triumph mirrored his 6-5 success over the world no.1 in the quarter-final of the China Championship last Thursday.

Just like six days ago, Allen saw Selby fight back gallantly from 5-3 down to force a decider, before ultimately getting the better of the world no.1 with a 60-odd break in the final shoot-out.

On this occasion, the 30 year-old compiled a decisive run of 62 when it seemed like Selby had gained the early upper hand in the frame.

It extends a quite unbelievable statistic between the pair when they have faced each other in best of 11s.

In six meetings under the format, the match has always been determined in a decider.

Indeed, this evening’s clash marked the 11th decider in 15 overall contests between the duo.

Although there were several big breaks throughout Wednesday’s affair, with Selby opening with a 113 and ten further half centuries shared among them, Allen complained post-match about the quality of the table.

Yet, the three-time ranking event winner must certainly be pleased to have held his nerve to complete another high-pressured victory over arguably the best current player in the game.

What Allen will be desperate for now is to avoid a repeat of his lacklustre subsequent display to beating Selby in Guangzhou, when he was comfortably ousted by John Higgins with a tame performance.

It won’t get much easier, though, with the Antrim man set to face Ronnie O’Sullivan for a second successive final berth at the Ricoh Arena.

Higgins, meanwhile, gets his Champion of Champions campaign going on Thursday as the fourth and final semi-final spot is up for grabs.

The Scot has had a few days to recover from his triumph in the Evergrande on Saturday which saw him pocket a mammoth £200,000 – the most ever awarded in a tournament staged outside the UK.

It’ll be interesting to see if he suffers from any hangover or jet lag, or whether the 41 year-old can continue his resurgence in form back in England.

Higgins faces a difficult day, though, if he is going to embark on another run to the last four of a lucrative invitational.

Shaun Murphy represents his initial challenge while the winner of that will face either Indian Open champion Anthony McGill or Judd Trump, who has been in superb form since the start of October.

Whatever happens, with Allen, O’Sullivan and Ding Junhui already waiting, Friday’s last four line-up is sure to be a humdinger.

Click here to view the draw.

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