MARK SELBY survived yet another thrilling finish to keep his defence of the Dafabet Masters on track after a night of high drama at Alexandra Palace.
Master of brinkmanship Selby recovered from 5-3 down to edge John Higgins 6-5 amid unbelievable tension to secure a semi-final meeting with Shaun Murphy.
Higgins had missed the brown in the tenth frame with a good chance to win 6-4 and was unlucky to suffer a kick when in leading 57-0 in the decider.
But he had further chances in a exciting denouement and eventually left the green on from a misjudged safety shot. Selby sank green and brown but was left with an awkward blue close to the left side cushion.
The Leicester man cross-doubled the blue and potted a tricky pink to the right middle before clenching his fist in delight, having won his 18th match from the 21 he has played in the Masters.
“I seem to be starting well but come out after the interval and play terrible snooker,” said Selby, who led Mark Davis 5-2 in the first round before finally scraping home 6-5.
“John just seemed to pick up the pieces. He didn’t really play anywhere near his best. At the end I knew John was there for the taking.
“When your back’s against the wall and you think you’re going out of the tournament you think, right, if I’m going to go out, I’m going to go out fighting. That should be my mentality from the start but it seems to not be for whatever reason.”
Selby made a highest break of 98 in the fourth frame to secure a 3-1 interval lead but was unable to take advantage of Higgins's errors and the Scot dug deep to get himself back into contention.
The twice champion won four successive frames to lead 5-3 but broke down on just 13 in the ninth after Selby himself had missed leading 56-0.
Selby won this frame and was the grateful beneficiary of Higgins’s missed brown in frame ten, after the four times world champion had got a second good chance to complete victory having suffered a kick on the green first time.
Selby’s brown to pink clearance set up the decider, which twisted one way and then another before the world no.2 clinched his nail-biting win.
Higgins offered a curt, blunt assessment of his performance. “Bottled it, bottled it” he said, before terminating his post match press conference.
Photographs by Monique Limbos.