‘JUST WHAT I NEEDED’ was Mark Selby’s typically deadpan response to his hard fought 5-4 victory over Anthony McGill in the last 32 of the Kreativ Dental German Masters in Wednesday.
Selby had been in China on Monday playing in a pool event and 48 hours on, understandably weary, found himself battling with the determined young Scotsman. The reigning world champion played well to lead 4-1, was outplayed for three frames but toughed through a 47 minute decider to set up a last 16 meeting with another hard-man of the game, Peter Ebdon.
This was not ideal preparation but Selby revealed that he had in fact been under the impression that the pool event would finish on January 29th, not February 2nd and that, had he realised the close proximity to Berlin, he would not have travelled to the far east.
In the end he got the best of both worlds: a cheque for around £30,000 from the pool tournament plus a second round berth in Germany.
In McGill we saw a mini-Selby: a player who gives it everything, is adept in several departments and who seems to genuinely love playing. A smile, though ironic at times, was never far from the Glaswegian’s face.
But Selby’s concentration, despite any residual tiredness, held up admirably. He is someone who has had it tough and who is tough as a result.
Ebdon’s 5-2 victory over John Higgins was completed with some heavy scoring. The 2002 world champion has been hardened by some good match-play at the Championship League and finished strongly from 2-2. He is certainly playing well enough to give Selby serious problems.
Judd Trump meanwhile was very impressive in making back-to-back centuries to see off Michael Holt 5-0, suggesting his first round exit at the Masters was an aberration in an otherwise very strong campaign.
Photographs by Monique Limbos.