Mon, May 01, 2017 - Page 11 News List

World champion Selby into final, seeing off Ding

AFP, SHEFFIELD, England

China’s Ding Junhui lines up a shot on Saturday, day 15 of the Snooker World Championship semi-final against Britain’s Mark Selby at the Crucible Theatre, in Sheffield, England.

Photo: AP

Mark Selby on Saturday was just one match away from winning his third World Championship title in four years after seeing off China’s Ding Junhui 17-15 in the semi-finals at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre in the UK.

The Englishman beat Ding in last year’s final and the pair were all square at 12-12 heading into the concluding session of their last-four clashes.

However, it is Selby, one of the toughest competitors in the game, who is to face Scotland’s four-time world champion John Higgins in the final.

The match would be a repeat of their 2007 Crucible title-decider, which Higgins won 18-13.

Selby pulled clear of Ding with breaks of 74 and 96 and went 16-13 in front.

However, Ding rallied before a missed blue gave Selby a chance to make a match-clinching 72 and leave Asia still searching for its first snooker world champion.

“When I had my chance there I was taking a little bit longer over my shots than I normally would, but I knew if I didn’t win the frame at that visit it would have got away from me,” Selby said. “Every shot felt like a pint of blood in that frame.”

Asked about his show of emotion, Selby told the BBC: “It’s more relief than anything else.”

For Ding, whose 13 centuries this tournament are the most by a player at a World Championship not to reach the final, the frustration at missing out on the chance to win snooker’s biggest prize was clear.

“I’m disappointed to have lost when I played so well, but that is sport,” Ding said. “Before I missed the blue in the last frame I thought I was going to level at 16-all, but sadly that didn’t happen.”

“However I have improved and have been a lot more confident and aggressive here so that is good,” said Ding, who in the quarter-finals beat five-times world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan.

“On this performance I think Mark Selby is the favorite to win the title,” he said.

Higgins, who resumed just one frame away from victory against Barry Hawkins, wasted little time by making a break of 120 in their first frame back for a comfortable 17-8 victory.

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