Ranking, Snooker Headlines

European Masters Final: Mark Selby vs Martin Gould

The English pair will battle to claim the first ranking event title of the new campaign.

Mark Selby and Martin Gould will contest the European Masters final on Sunday at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes.

A tough schedule meant that two hurdles had to be overcome on the penultimate day of action, with both the quarter-finals and semi-finals taking place.

Gould outlasted Yan Bingtao in a topsy-turvy encounter that went all the way to the deciding frame, before the “Pinner Potter” continued his resurgence in form by beating world number one Judd Trump in the last four.

With the scores level at 3-3, Gould clinched a critical seventh frame and followed it up with breaks of 60 and 102 to confidently power past the tournament favourite.

For a player that was languishing just above the tour survival line ahead of the World Championship qualifiers a couple of months ago, it has been a remarkable turnaround in fortunes.

Gould has been open about his off-table struggles, but the former German Masters champion appears to be in a better place as he bids to get his career going back in the right direction.

However, the 39 year-old faces another difficult challenge in the European Masters final if he’s to land what would be only his second career ranking success.

Selby’s progress through was a little more straightforward, thumping Ding Junhui 5-1 in the last eight ahead of a 6-3 defeat of Shaun Murphy.

The former world number one has seemingly put the disappointment of last month’s dramatic semi-final loss to Ronnie O’Sullivan behind him and is one win away from securing an 18th ranking trophy.

In ten prior fixtures against one another, Selby has generally had the better time with seven wins to Gould’s three.

The duo clashed in the final of the Gdynia Open in 2016 but over the much shorter best-of-seven frames, with Selby coming out on top on that occasion a 4-1 winner.

Their only other multi-session tie was a year later in the semi-finals of the International Championship, when Selby again triumphed with ease courtesy of a 9-3 scoreline.

The European Masters final will similarly be played over the best of 17 frames but behind closed doors as fans are still unable to attend live sport.

In Daqing three years ago, Gould lost the opening session 7-1 and it goes without saying that he can’t afford that kind of outcome from the early exchanges again.

The major problem is Selby’s prowess at this stage of a competition, as when the “Jester” gets into this kind of winning position he rarely seems to let the opportunity slip by.

In fact, Selby has won 14 out of the last 15 ranking event finals he has participated in – including a staggering nine in a row.

The three-time world champion will be fancied to prevail then and collect the £80,000 winner’s cheque that will also count towards this term’s European Series.

Live coverage of the European Masters final is on Eurosport.

Click here to view the draw (Times: CET)

Featured photo credit: WST

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