Mark Selby has won the World Snooker Tour Classic, picking up his second ranking title of the season by beating Pang Junxu 6-2. He made three centuries in the final and delighted fans in his home city of Leicester, adding a 22nd career ranking title to his collection and confirming his place in the Tour Championship in the process.
Selby had a superb run to the final, toppling fellow world champion John Higgins in the quarter-finals and then whitewashing Ali Carter in the semi-final and there was little that his opponent could do as his exhibited fine form to take home the trophy.
The Leicester player started in typically dominant fashion, swiftly reeling off back-to-back centuries of 104 and 138 to move into a 2-0 lead. Pang fought back to make a 75 in the third frame, but then frame four went to the kind of protracted battle for which Selby is famed. As a result, it was 3-1 at the mid-session interval and the Chinese player needed to come out roaring to stand a chance against his experienced opponent.
Selby has now won 19 of his last 21 ranking titles
It was not to be, as Selby produced a third century – this time, of 120 – to move 4-1 ahead. The sixth frame was scrappy, but this time it was Pang’s turn to come out on top and reduce his arrears to two. In the seventh frame, Selby converted a long pot on one of the three remaining reds into the points he needed to move within one of victory, and he only needed one chance to make 79 and close out the match.
After the match, Selby said: “I played well all day, against John Higgins in the quarter-finals and Ali in the semis, then continued that in the final. I was just gutted at the end not to make a fourth century! I have been striking the ball well in practice and it was nice to take that to the match table. Even when I won the English Open in December, I wasn’t hitting the ball as well as I was this week. Hopefully I can carry that into the Tour Championship then the World Championship. I’ll be going to Sheffield confident.”
Selby has now won 19 of his last 21 ranking titles. His run of form is coming at the right end of the season, if he has his eyes on the sport’s biggest trophy. He has moved within one of Judd Trump and Neil Robertson on the all-time list of ranking event winners, and he has narrowed the gap in the world rankings between himself (in second) and number one Ronnie O’Sullivan.