Ronnie O’Sullivan is 10-7 up against Mark Selby as the Dafabet World Championship final resumes today, just as he was against Ali Carter in the 2012 final and Barry Hawkins 12 months ago.
But despite being ahead, O’Sullivan knows that it is Selby who had cause for celebration as he left the Crucible Theatre last night. The Leicester man was comfortably second best over the course of the first two sessions and was in danger of facing a huge deficit overnight but won the last two frames of the evening to stay in touch.
This was typical Selby. His form may not have been there but his trademark fight was. After all the talk of fatigue, he was the stronger of the two at the end of the session.
However for Selby to become world champion for the first time later today he will need to start making breaks. He didn’t make a half century until frame 12. He did compile runs of 58 and 62 in the last two frames but he will need to start killing them off in one visit to keep O’Sullivan at bay.
The stage is still set for O’Sullivan to join Ray Reardon and Steve Davis as six times world champions. The afternoon session is a must win for Selby if he is to stop this happening.
The whole snooker year builds up to today, which will be remembered long after most of the preceding days of the season have been forgotten. The World Championship remains the Holy Grail for any player. It is a mentally shattering test of skill, nerve and temperament beyond compare in the sport. The rewards are considerable, the disappointments can linger for a lifetime.
Let’s hope O’Sullivan and Selby can serve up a final day fitting for snooker’s showpiece event and give this 17-day marathon the send-off it deserves.
Photographs by Monique Limbos.