Mark Selby claimed his second UK Championship crown on Sunday evening, beating Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-7 in a final high on quality.
For Mark Selby, the 2016/17 snooker season keeps getting better. The Leicester native clinched his third ranking title of the season in a sensational UK Championship final, seeing off Ronnie O’Sullivan in a match where five centuries were scored in the final six frames.
On the other hand, Ronnie O’Sullivan suffered his third consecutive defeat in the final of a major tournament, as the five-time world champion fell yet again at the hands of Mark Selby, a player who O’Sullivan has referred to as the ‘torturer.’
SELBY HITS BACK AT CRITICS
Mark Selby has so often been labelled a ‘boring player’, whose slow, tactical play has frustrated many snooker fans. However, last night Selby showed his outstanding break-building ability, most notably in a magnificent 137 break in frame 13.
Indeed, perhaps Selby’s greatest attribute is the ability to adopt so many different styles of play. We know that Selby is renowned for his tactical safety, but his ability to sense the flow of a game and adapt is what sets him apart from other players.
Last night, as O’Sullivan began to mount a comeback and score heavily, lesser players may have crumbled. However, Selby proved that he too can get down and score high breaks when he needs to. Selby did not frustrate O’Sullivan and make the game a scrappy affair, he simply outplayed him.
RONNIE’S HUMILTY IN DEFEAT ADMIRABLE
There was something about Ronnie O’Sullivan’s post-match interview last night that almost made you forget he had actually lost. With a smile on his face, the Rocket spoke of how much he had enjoyed the occasion, of how good the crowd were, and of how well his conqueror Mark Selby had played.
Having lost his third major final of the 2016/17 snooker season, you could have forgiven O’Sullivan for being downcast or dejected, but the five-time world champion’s humble musings were a testament to O’Sullivan’s newfound modest outlook on the sport. Now combining playing with punditry, O’Sullivan has spoken of how much he enjoys his job at the moment.
These are admirable sentiments from O’Sullivan, who described his work as ‘one big holiday’, but underneath this modest facade O’Sullivan surely harbours a desire for more success. The Rocket will have his sights firmly set on Januray’s Dafabet Masters where he will seek to defend his crown.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR SELBY?
Selby’s triumph in York was his 10th ranking title, placing him 8th in most ranking event wins. At 33, Selby still has many years ahead of him, and with the Jester from Leicester in scintillating form this season, you wouldn’t bet against him adding to his three ranking titles this season.
Selby currently both the World and UK Championship titles, and victory at the Masters in January could see him hold all three triple crown titles heading into the World Championship next April.
For a lot of fans, Selby’s place among the greats will be determined by the number of World Championships he can win. Only six players have won more than two world titles, but with Selby in such good form, he will fancy his chances of adding to his two world crowns in the coming years. Selby, undoubtedly, has all the attributes to win many more titles, and assume a position among the legends of the game, one of which he swept aside on Sunday night.