Mark Selby won his first ranking title in a year and half with victory over Luca Brecel in the English Open final on Sunday.
The Leicester man prevailed 9-6 to lift the Steve Davis Trophy – claiming the £80,000 top prize and a 21st career ranking title.
Selby was never behind in the final after taking the opening frame of the contest in Brentwood with a tidy break of 90.
The 39 year-old added contributions of 57 and 75 to move further in front, but Brecel fought back gallantly to end the first session with the scores level.
When the play resumed in the evening session, a similar pattern ensued.
Selby won the opening couple of frames with breaks of 51 and 61 only for Brecel to respond with a terrific 122 century.
The latter had an opportunity to restore parity again, but Selby crucially won a close 12th frame to head to the last mid-session interval in front.
When the four-time world champion then won the next to move within the brink of success, the writing was on the wall for Brecel.
But the Belgian Bullet kept fighting and almost made a maximum break to keep his chances alive, disappointingly missing the 15th black while on 113.
Selby ensured that there were to be no further heroic comebacks as he sealed the deal with a break of 87 to capture the English Open for a second time.
It’s a fine way for the Jester to end a 2022 that has, in many ways, been the most testing year of his career.
The former world number one suffered through his worst ever form at a time when he also opened up on his ongoing battles with depression away from the baize.
Victory in the Home Nations event will send an ominous message to his fiercest competitors that he’s ready to challenge on the biggest stages again.
Selby rises back to number two in the world rankings behind Ronnie O’Sullivan, and he’s just £3,000 shy of Mark Allen in this campaign’s European Series standings.
The leader of that series after eight BetVictor-sponsored events this term will land a lucrative bonus worth £150,000.
For Brecel, it was a disappointing conclusion to an otherwise terrific week in which he beat the likes of Allen and Judd Trump.
The 27 year-old ultimately left it too late to produce his best in the final, but he’s beginning to consistently look like the top ten player that his ranking now reflects.
The English Open glory belongs to Selby, though, who was understandably emotional after completing the triumph.
“Because of where I’ve been, I’ve literally been to the well and back,” Mark Selby said in the Eurosport studio.
“I can honestly say, if it wasn’t for Vicky (Selby’s wife) being there for everything – she’s probably gone through it worse than me, because she doesn’t really know what to say or what to do with what I was going through.”
“But I can honestly say if it wasn’t for her, then I wouldn’t be sat here. I’d be long gone.”
Featured photo credit: WST