It’s the defending champion versus the world champion as Mark Selby faces Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final of the Dafabet Masters at Alexandra Palace on Sunday…
MARK SELBY v RONNIE O’SULLIVAN
30 Age 38
2 Ranking 24
30 Centuries this season 30
7 Masters appearances 20
Winner 3 times Best Masters performance Winner 4 times
THE CASE FOR SELBY
A Masters specialist, he has lost only three matches in the 22 he has played in the tournament. Much more fluent in beating Shaun Murphy than in earlier matches, Selby again proved himself a form horse in snooker’s leading invitation event. He is also capable of getting under O’Sullivan’s skin – possibly the only top player who can do this.
THE CASE FOR O’SULLIVAN
O’Sullivan, who first won this title 19 years ago, appears relaxed and able to shrug off his rare mistakes to focus on getting the job done. His long potting and safety are particularly good, so he is not only getting into frames but also shutting his opponents out. That he has lost only three frames all week speaks volumes.
This is a final to relish, pitting together two players who have won seven Masters titles between them and will have combined to have appeared in 15 Masters finals.
If O’Sullivan refuses to think about Selby – who he nicknamed ‘The Torturer’ in his book ‘Running’ – and just concentrate on playing then he has every chance of moving to within one title of Stephen Hendry’s Masters record. Selby said yesterday that he does not frustrate O’Sullivan on purpose. Perhaps he should. But under pressure he can be deadly and if it goes close would be worth backing.
Photographs by Monique Limbos.