Mark Selby beats John Higgins to join snooker's Crucible greats

World champion defends title in thrilling fashion despite late controversy and nightmare start to final

Mark Selby, snooker
Mark Selby with daughter Sofia and wife Vikki after winning the World Snooker Championship
(Image credit: Warren Little/Getty)

Mark Selby was crowned snooker world champion for the third time, becoming only the fourth person to defend the title at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, thanks to a remarkable comeback against John Higgins.

The 33-year-old world number one seemed down and out on the first day of the World Snooker Championship final and trailed Higgins by ten frames to four on Sunday evening. But the 33-year-old rallied in spectacular fashion on Monday to clinch a thrilling final 18-15, even overcoming controversy in the 31st frame when he was adjudged to have missed the black as he attempted a snooker.

Selby believed he had touched the black but, with TV replays inconclusive, he was penalised by referee Jan Verhaas, and this allowed Higgins to return to the table and win the frame to make it 16-15.

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But Selby regained his composure to win the next two frames and follow in the footsteps of greats Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry and Ronnie O'Sullivan by winning back-to-back titles in Sheffield.

"At various stages of this final both players looked humiliation in the face and each deserves credit for staring it down to play his part in delivering a classic," says Barry Glendenning of The Guardian. "Way behind and looking exhausted towards the end of the first day, Selby drew on his fabled mental reserves to haul himself back into contention with a late-night effort that laid the foundations for his third title. A day later it was Higgins who found himself in the wringer: before potting his first red of Monday’s final session he had lost nine frames out of the previous ten, failed to score in just under an hour of play and been consigned to his chair while Selby scored 256 points without reply as he won four in a row."

It has been another great season for Selby, says Hector Nunns of The Times. "A year ago Selby won a second world title on the same day his beloved Leicester City were crowned Premier League champions but this year the spotlight and the glory in the East Midlands is all his,' writes Nunns.

"And having earned £933,000 this season, he has beaten the previous prize-money record for a single campaign — the £740,000 set by Hendry in 1994-95. Selby now stands £740,000 clear of Higgins at the top of the money-based rankings."

It was also his fifth ranking title of the season, equalling the record jointly held by Ding Junhui and Stephen Hendry.

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