MARK Selby arrived in Berlin looking exhausted but left it as world no.1 after capturing the Kreativ Dental German Masters at a packed Tempodrom on Sunday night.
Selby’s thrilling 9-7 victory over Shaun Murphy from 5-2 down was typically hard fought as he collected his biggest trophy since triumphing at the World Championship last May.
Selby had been out in China playing a version of eight ball pool and made a tidy sum for reaching the final but admitted it was not ideal preparation for a major snooker tournament. He arrived bleary-eyed after a long flight the night before his first match with Anthony McGill but his relentless enthusiasm for snooker carried him through that match and the rest of the tournament.
First time world champions often struggle with increased expectations. First time fathers often struggle with the change in life patterns. Selby is both and has not had the best of seasons.
But the great thing now about snooker is that there is always another tournament just around the corner and Selby is too good a player not to come good in one.
This represents a real confidence boost with his Crucible title defence looming just two months from now. And Selby will hope that, as with the likes of Neil Robertson, Judd Trump, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Murphy this season, it is the start of a spell in which he will be contesting the latter stages of a series of tournaments.
The BetVictor Welsh Open starts in just over a week’s time and there’s plenty more snooker to come in March.
So the German Masters is over for another year and even by the high standards of this tournament it’s been a great five days. The quality of snooker and levels of excitement have been extremely high. The arena is arguably the best on the whole circuit and the audiences have been as engaged and enthralled as ever.
Brandon Parker and Thomas Cesal, the promoters, continue to do a first rate job in partnership with World Snooker, who have supported the tournament financially as, despite all the interest, it is a struggle to turn a profit, though that will hopefully change in future years.
Barry Hearn, the World Snooker chairman, paid his first visit to the Tempodrom on Sunday, alongside his best friend and most celebrated management client, Steve Davis.
The scenes they witnessed must have reminded them of snooker’s British heyday when Davis cleaned up on the table and, thanks to Hearn, both of them cleaned up off it.
Thanks to Eurosport, interest in snooker in Europe continues to grow and there are tentative plans for some sort of European Championship, presumably to sit alongside the UK Championship and International Championship in China.
In a global marketplace, any sport has to spread its wings as far as it can. Talks continue about an event in the Middle East.
But Germany clearly remains a much loved stopping off point on the circuit and the German Masters a coveted title.
Players want to win but they also want their talent and efforts to be appreciated. At the Tempodrom they were. Selby has won the game’s big three titles but this one will also be very special.
Photographs by Monique Limbos.