Mark Selby retains World Championship title after 18-15 win over John Higgins
Last Updated: 02/05/17 11:36am
Mark Selby produced one of the most astonishing victories in a Crucible final as he landed his third Betfred World Championship title.
When he trailed John Higgins by 10-4 on Sunday evening, Selby had looked beaten, on the scoreboard and in his cheerless demeanour, but a colossal comeback saw him roll to an 18-15 victory.
There was a moment of huge controversy late in the day, when Selby attempted to roll up behind the black and snooker Higgins, only for referee Jan Verhaas to decide the ball had run up short. He called a foul, briefly rowed back on his decision, before reinstating the original call.
Selby seemed nonplussed but gathered his composure, and victory made him just the fourth player to successfully defend a world title in Sheffield, after Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry and Ronnie O'Sullivan. That level of company reflects Selby's status as a modern-day snooker great.
Higgins, a four-time world champion, must have been thinking a fifth title was coming his way as he took advantage of Selby's obvious languor early in the match, a hangover from the world number one's sapping semi-final against Ding Junhui.
No player had come back to win from a greater deficit than six frames in a World Championship final since Dennis Taylor trailed Steve Davis by 8-0 and 9-1 in their 1985 classic.
Crucially Selby launched his revival late in the day on Sunday, thrusting a fist pump after reeling off three successive frames, and planting the first seeds of doubt into the mind of Higgins.
The seeds became giant oaks of disbelief on Monday afternoon as Higgins saw his lead evaporate and Selby begin to stretch clear.
The 33-year-old from Leicester led 13-11 coming into the evening, and withstood a late Higgins flourish to get his hands on the trophy.
Blessed with a terrific temperament, Selby knew once he had narrowed the gap to Higgins that the momentum was with him.
Selby's title last year came on the same night that Leicester City won the Premier League title, with even Selby distracted by his beloved football team's success.
This time the glory was all his, the £375,000 top prize taking him to £930,875 for the season - an all-time high.
Selby also matches the record of five ranking titles in a season, previously achieved by Hendry in 1990/91 and Ding in 2013/14.
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