RONNIE O’SULLIVAN paid tribute to Mark Selby after losing his world title to the Leicester man in a dramatic Crucible final on Monday night.
O’Sullivan was aiming for his sixth world title and third in succession but was beaten 18-14 having led 10-7 overnight.
But O’Sullivan, 38, was warm in his praise of Selby, who produced a superb finish to land the £300,000 top prize.
“That was tough,” O’Sullivan said. “Mark had me in all sorts of trouble for two days and I was just numb. I gave it my best but he’s a worthy champion.
“He out-fought me, out-battled me and I’ve got no complaints. I fought my hardest.
“That’s the nature of sport. If you buy a raffle ticket and sign up to be a sportsman you accept the losses as well as the wins. You can’t have it all your own way all the time. I’ve had some great wins here but losing is part of the sport and you accept it. You have to go away, lick your wounds and try and go one better next time.
“It wasn’t the most free-flowing match. There were a lot of long safety bouts and I got dragged into it. I tried to make something happen, open balls up, but when you try and force something it never happens. Everything I did, he had an answer for. I was finding it hard to put any momentum together.
“You can never count Mark out. He’s the type of player who seems to thrive when he’s behind, he’s a modern day Cliff Thorburn. He’ll never give in. He’s a winner.
“You have to stick in there but you have to play well as well. If you start making mistakes he’ll just keep putting you in trouble.”
Photographs by Monique Limbos.