Mark Selby won a thrilling and high quality final by 10-8 to win the China Open 2017, denying Mark Williams a 19th ranking title, and, probably more importantly just now, an automatic spot at the Crucible.
Sunday 2 Apr 2017 04:31PM
World number one Selby captured the 11th ranking title of his career and a top prize of £85,000 by coming from 8-7 down to win the last three frames.
Defeat was a double blow for 42-year-old Williams as he missed out on his first ranking title in six years and also the chance to regain a place among the world’s top 16. Victory would have given him an automatic spot at the Crucible later this month, but now he must head to the Betfred World Championship qualifiers which start on Wednesday (tickets available – click here for details) and will need to win three matches to make the final stages. Ryan Day must have been the most relieved man following the final as he hung on to the 16th seeding position thanks to his fellow Welshman’s defeat.
Selby, meanwhile, will head to the Crucible at the top of his game having had his most successful season to date. He had never previously won more than two ranking events in a single campaign, but following his victories at the Paul Hunter Classic, International Championship and UK Championship, the 33-year-old from Leicester has landed another piece of silverware.
In fact Selby had a relatively quiet spell in recent months – failing to reach a semi-final in the seven tournaments which followed his UK triumph in December. But in winning seven matches in Beijing he has established himself as hot favourite as he goes to Sheffield attempting to win his third World title since 2014.
A high quality start to the final saw Selby build a 3-1 lead with breaks of 54, 100 and 109, while Williams made a 124 in frame three. The next four were shared, then Williams made a 106 in the last frame of the opening session to trail just 5-4 heading into the conclusion.
Williams, whose last ranking title came when he beat Selby in the final of the 2011 German Masters, took three of the first four frames of the evening session with top breaks of 68, 65 and 81 to move 7-6 ahead. Selby restored parity with a 95 before Williams won a tense 50-minute 15th frame on the pink.
Selby rose to the occasion with runs of 70 and 124 to edge 9-8 ahead, and he dominated the 18th frame with a top break of 39 to seal the title.
I have to say, I feel for Mark Williams, and this is by no means something against Mark Selby who played a fantastic match, was granite under pressure, and deserved the win. The thing is that “Willo” will now be very tired and may already have to play another best of 19 again, most certainly still jet-lagged, on Wednesday in Ponds Forge. If he failed to qualify for the Crucible, it would be a terrible blow for him. And what makes me really unhappy, angry even, is that if that joke of a tournament that is the Shootout wasn’t ranking, he WOULD be at the Crucible and it’s Anthony McGill who would be at spot 17 … tell me about not rewarding mediocrity. You win 7 frames under a ridiculous shot-clock format, played under rules that aren’t even snooker, in front of a half-drunken crowd so loud that refereeing properly proved impossible, and, well, you get about as many ranking points for it than for the tremendous efforts Mark Williams produced this week … Seriously?
These views are mine, Monique Limbos, and mine only.