MARK SELBY became the first player to reach the quarter-finals of the Dafabet World Championship by completing a 13-9 victory over Ali Carter at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield on Friday night.
Selby, runner-up in the game’s premier event in 2007, pulled away from his 9-7 second session lead to establish a 12-7 advantage, completing a terrific clearance of 69 to win the 21st frame.
But the world no.3 from Leicester had problems killing the match off and Carter stole two frames before Selby finally got over the line.
“I fell over the line towards the end,” said Selby, who last reached the World Championship quarter-finals in 2011. “I won a big frame to go 12-7. If he wins that he’s still in the match. Once I won that I felt comfortable.”
Selby had led 5-1 during the first session but this was reduced to 5-3 and he was again pegged back in the second session, his 9-5 lead cut to just 9-7.
But Carter was unable to reproduce his earlier good form in the final session as Selby’s superior safety kept him under pressure. Selby now faces Ken Doherty or Alan McManus for a place in the semi-finals.
“On paper I’ll be favourite but that doesn’t mean anything,” he said. “If I don’t play to what I can then Ken or Alan are more than capable of winning.
“It’s been tough here. I lost to Barry Hawkins last year but it’s nice to have a chance to get to the one table situation again. I’ve not won anything this season but it’s not been drastic. I’ve been to four finals and have come out the wrong side every time.”
Carter was runner-up at the Crucible to Ronnie O’Sullivan in 2008 and 2012 but admitted he had found it hard to counter Selby’s tactical game.
He said: “Tonight was the worst session of the match for me. It was the story of the match – I couldn’t quite get level pegging with him. Mark’s played very well. He hasn’t played that well for quite a few months.
“He played some great safety. He was granite. He’s just so hard to beat and doesn’t give you anything. He plays a lot of containing safety shots where you feel like you’ll be there all day if you play them. He’s there to win and it works well for him. He’s a great player but very difficult to play against. He freezes you out a lot.
“The frame to go 11-8 probably cost me the match. It was a bitty game, a lot of scrappy frames. It’s disappointing but I’ll be back next year.”
Ricky Walden went 9-5 up on Barry Hawkins in the night’s other match but was pegged back to lead just 9-7 overnight.
Photographs by Monique Limbos.