Mark Selby has come through some ‘really dark days’ in recent years but can put the tough times behind him now he has lifted his fourth World Snooker Championship title.
The Jester from Leicester beat Shaun Murphy 18-15 on Monday night at the Crucible in Sheffield, completing a superb tournament full of immense performances.
The 37-year-old swept aside the competition over the first three rounds, comfortably beating Kurt Maflin, Mark Allen and Mark Williams, before going to war with Stuart Bingham in the semis and Murphy in the final.
He displayed his famed tactical and safety play, especially in those last two matches, but also knocked in 12 centuries over the event, proving once again that he is one of the best scorers in the sport.
A fourth title in a fifth final for Selby puts him alongside the greats in the sport, level on Crucible crowns with John Higgins and only behind Stephen Hendry, Steve Davis and Ronnie O’Sullivan.
‘Absolutely incredible,’ he told the BBC after beating Murphy. ‘Every time you get to the world final, you always try your hardest, it’s such a tough tournament to get there you never know if it’s going to be your last or not.
‘To win it once against O’Sullivan was a dream come true, to win it four times is just only something I could dream of.’
Selby had gone through something of a dry spell in 2018 and ’19, when he was struggling for his best form, not winning titles and lost the world number one spot he had held for around four years previously.
He was struggling mentally with his game, and he thought technically, but coach Chris Henry helped him get over both those problems and set him back on the path to world honours.
‘Yeah it was [hard to keep believing],’ Selby said. ‘A few years ago I had some really, really dark days.
‘Times were tough, obviously all the family and everyone who’s close to me will understand everything that I’m going through.
‘This has been a special one, it’s been tough.’
After going 14 months without a title, an epic spell for a man of Selby’s talents, he described his struggles at the 2019 English Open, which he went on to win.
‘It’s a tough one because over the last four or five years I’ve had such good seasons,’ Selby said in Crawley. ‘I won five tournaments one year, then anything less than that it seems like a failure which is obviously not the case because it’s tough to win any tournament nowadays.
‘Even if I was to lose in the final and it’s still not good enough because of what I’ve achieved in the game and when you’ve set your standards so high. Until I win another tournament my confidence probably won’t come back.’
Those days are long behind him now and he will be aiming to reclaim the world number one spot he held for so long from Judd Trump.
Selby and Murphy go way back to their battles as juniors and the champion had some kind words for the runner-up, who played superbly over the tournament, having shown little form coming into it.
‘Shaun’s played fantastic all the way through the match, he’s a great great player and a great ambassador for our game,’ said the new world champ.
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