Selby defeats Ding to clinch world title

England's Mark Selby holding a Leicester City banner next to his trophy after beating China's Ding Junhui in the final of the World Snooker Championship at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.
England's Mark Selby holding a Leicester City banner next to his trophy after beating China's Ding Junhui in the final of the World Snooker Championship at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Mark Selby denied Asia its first snooker world champion by beating China's Ding Junhui 18-14 in the World Championship final on Monday.

It was the second time in three years that the Englishman had won snooker's most important prize.

Selby, whose only success this season had been to win the minor Gdynia Open event in Poland, was ahead throughout in the final at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre but Monday's concluding session saw Ding, who bases himself in the northern English city for much of the snooker season, close the gap to 14-16 before the 2014 champion prevailed.

"I had a very bad start 6-0 down, I couldn't win a frame. I was a bit nervous as I hadn't been in a (World Championship) final before," Ding, who had to come through qualifying in order to reach the main draw of this year's edition after dropping out of snooker's top 16, told the BBC.

Tipped to be a world champion since winning the UK Championship as a teenager in 2005, Ding said he hoped that Monday's display would act as a springboard to him winning the world title eventually.

"Five years ago, I was in the semi-final and this year was one step up, so maybe next year I'm going to win it," he said after a defeat that left Canada's Cliff Thorburn (1980), the Republic of Ireland's Ken Doherty (1997) and Australia's Neil Robertson (2010) as the only non-British winners of the World Championship since the modern era tournament started in 1969.

A delighted Selby, who won his title only a few minutes after his football team Leicester City had been confirmed English Premier League champions, said: "It was a tough final and, with the amount of pressure Ding was under, from China alone, I can't imagine how he could play like that.

"In the first to 18, a 6-0 lead is not a huge one, especially against someone like Ding. He played fantastically earlier today and I had to just hang on to him... I saved my best performance for the final and I only had two good sessions in the tournament. Luckily my 'B' game is pretty good."

He had been on his B game throughout the championship and he was able to lift himself only occasionally in his largely tactical, safety-based victory.

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 04, 2016, with the headline 'Selby defeats Ding to clinch world title'. Print Edition | Subscribe