MARK Selby became the first player into the Dafabet World Championship semi-finals after completing a 13-5 victory over Scotland’s Alan McManus.
It is a first return to the single-table set-up at the Crucible for world No3 Selby in four years, since losing to Graeme Dott in 2010.
The Leicester Jester has not enjoyed the best of fortunes in recent times at the blue-riband tournament, coming to grief twice early on against Barry Hawkins – once with a neck problem – and losing a quarter-final to Ding Junhui.
Selby, 30, may have lost three major finals this season at the UK, Masters and World Open but appears to be improving after a narrow squeak against Michael White in round one.
And he is desperate to now push on and reach a first Crucible final for seven years, his only previous appearance in the showpiece, when he lost to John Higgins.
Selby said: “It is a strange feeling going out with a lead like 12-4, because it is a case of when rather than if in 99.9 per cent of cases. I just had to be patient.
“Alan is still a great player and has had one of his best season for many years.
“It has been a long time since I was in the one-table set-up and a semi-final here, four years. I have a little break until Thursday evening, so I’ll be getting some rest.
“I know if I play well I will give anyone a game, whether that is Judd Trump or Neil Robertson.
“And it would be nice to lift that trophy but there is a long way to go, we are only halfway through on frames with a first to 17 and a first to 18 to come.
“The first session was a bit of a struggle, we both played below par and I was happy to get out 4-3 up – but the second session I played really well and took my chances.
“Obviously Alan is a great tactical player with a game in that respect as good as anyone. I found myself getting involved in that, and while I don’t mind that at all I like to play open if I can.
“He controlled it in the first session and I played a bit more attacking safety after that session, opening up the balls more.”
McManus said: “I am disappointed with my performance, especially in the second session when I missed some balls that were unforgiveable.
“It has been a long haul, with the qualifiers as well I have been here for around 18 days now already.
“But there are positives, I am back in the top 32 for the first time in a while and I have had some good results this year, and beaten two former world champions at the Crucible.”
Photographs by Monique Limbos