It’s the last day of the Betfred World Snooker Championship.
After almost a month of rip-roaring cue action in Sheffield, either Mark Selby or Shaun Murphy will end Monday at the Crucible Theatre as the 2021 world snooker champion.
Selby boasts a 10-7 advantage following the first two sessions of play, winning seven out of nine frames on Sunday evening to overturn a two-frame deficit into a three-frame overnight cushion.
The three-time former champion dug deep in trademark fashion, taking advantage of several elongated frames to impose his greater tactical astuteness on the contest.
Murphy, who spectacularly fought back from 10-4 behind to crush Kyren Wilson’s hopes in the semi-finals, will need another monumental effort if he’s to prevent Selby from becoming only the fifth player in the Crucible era to claim a fourth world title.
The general consensus from the pundits and fans seems to be that Murphy needs to start dictating the pace and style of the game in order to give himself a better opportunity for success, but there’s a question mark surrounding whether or not the 38 year-old has the energy left for the struggle.
Murphy’s stamina levels looked low late on Sunday, reminiscent not of the swashbuckling and fist-punching 22 year-old that sensationally claimed the world crown as a qualifier in 2005, but more like the exhausted and beaten competitor who was comfortably thrashed in the final by John Higgins four years later.
Selby’s endurance is unlikely to be an issue, and the 37 year-old known as the master of brinkmanship will have to be scraped off the baize before accepting defeat.
With the Jester requiring just eight more frames, any sort of mini-victory in the eight-frame third session will surely result in the former world number one reacquiring the prized silverware.
Selby has odds of 1/5 to go on and raise the trophy aloft come Monday evening in Sheffield, with this bet365 offer code available for those who wish to back the heavy favourite.
Yet, Murphy does have those good recent memories against Wilson to recall upon, and he’ll have to believe that if he were to get on a roll he still has the capability of reeling in his esteemed opponent.
After a long tournament that began with the qualifiers way back on April 5, the fight to become the world snooker champion has come down to this in Sheffield, the final two sessions and the last hurrah for a difficult 2020/2021 campaign.