MARK SELBY admitted he is finding it hard to balance the demands of an increasingly punishing schedule after reaching the second round of the BetVictor Welsh Open on Thursday night.

Selby defeated Northern Ireland’s Joe Swail 4-0 at the Newport Centre but is already eyeing a hectic March as the run-in to the World Championship gathers pace.

The world no.2 has qualified for the Haikou World Open and China Open but in between must return to the UK for the PTC grand finals, which have been switched from Thailand due to civil unrest.

And Selby, a second round loser at the Crucible last season, said he came close to not entering the Beijing event in a bid to be fresher come the game’s showpiece event in April.

“I considered not playing in the China Open because I thought that even if you have a good run in it it’s close to the World Championship,” Selby said.

“Last year me and Neil [Robertson] got to the final and then went to the World Championship, really struggled and didn’t perform.

“So I think it had a bit of a factor. Even when you come back it takes you a few days to get over the jetlag.

“I entered the China Open in the end, although there was no guarantee I’d win my qualifying match. I will end up going now but it’s tough because I’m in the position where to give myself the best chance [at the Crucible] I’d rather not play in it but at the same time it’s hard to not enter.

“Having to travel back from China for the PTC finals and then back out again is going to take a lot out of some players.

“It’s difficult. You need to find a balance and not play in everything, but they’re ranking tournaments and there’s big money at stake with the ranking system going to prize money next year.”

On Wednesday, Ronnie O’Sullivan, who won last season’s world title after taking a year off, said: “Does it mean that if you do well in every tournament and play consistently well that you’ll win the Worlds? Obviously not because last year I proved to myself I could just play one event and win it. I’m not saying I can do that all the time but it just shows you what’s possible.”

Selby encountered little resistance from a below par Swail, clinching victory in 69 minutes.

“I was happy to get over the line,” he said. “Joe didn’t really perform and gave me a lot of chances throughout the match. I started off all right and after that fed of Joe’s mistakes.

“It’s a long season now so coming here it’s nice to get the first few rounds out of the way convincingly.

“In patches I played some good snooker and at times I lose little bits of concentration and am dying off a bit. Hopefully I can use this event and the others in the build-up to the World Championship to make sure I get it right.”

Jack Lisowski and Martin Gould were also 4-0 winners, over Adam Duffy and Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon respectively.

Earlier, three-times Welsh Open champion John Higgins beat Malta’s Tony Drago 4-0 to set up a clash with fellow former world champion Ken Doherty.


Photographs by Monique Limbos.