Mark Selby clinches third World Championship title after stunning comeback against John Higgins
Mark Selby completed a remarkable comeback to beat John Higgins 18-15 and retain his World Championship crown at The Crucible.
The world number one claimed his third world title against all the odds, having trailed Higgins 10-4 at one point on Sunday evening.
But a dominant Bank Holiday Monday performance saw Selby overcome four-time world champion Higgins, who at 41 was bidding to become the oldest winner since Ray Reardon won in 1978 aged 45.
Having trailed 10-7 overnight, Selby won the Monday afternoon session 6-1 to move 13-11 ahead, and despite a spirited effort from Higgins – which featured a controversial moment in frame 31 - the reigning champion closed out the stunning victory.
Selby now joins John Spencer (1969, 1971 and 1977) as a three-time champion, with Higgins’ tally of four (1998, 2007, 2009, 2011) very much in the 33-year-old’s sights.
England's Mark Selby kisses the trophy after beating Scotland's John Higgins in the World Championship Snooker final at The Crucible in SheffieldGetty Images
The ‘Jester from Leicester’ carried on the momentum that saw him win the final three frames on Sunday by claiming the opening two on Monday afternoon.
This five-frame run was eventually ended by Higgins, but Selby then won two exhausting frames to level the scores at 11-11.
And 10 years on from their epic Crucible showdown – which saw Higgins prevail 18-13 at 00:54am in the latest finish in final history – the rematch appeared to be heading for another post-midnight finish.
But Selby had other ideas, and having not led since clinching Sunday’s opening frame, he leapfrogged Higgins to take a 13-11 lead going into the final session.
Selby then won three of the evening’s opening four frames before the mid-session interval to move within two of victory, but Higgins would not lie down easily, as breaks of 88 and 111 took him to 16-14 before he claimed a third straight frame in bizarre circumstances.
The incident in the 31st frame saw referee Jan Verhaas call a foul as Selby – who was leading 47-0 - rolled the white in behind the black. It was deemed to have missed, although replays suggest it may have hit, and Higgins went on to win the frame 74-47.
It was a moment which certainly divided opinion, but it handed Higgins a way back into the match when all seemed lost. However, Selby showed immense mental strength to make a 131 clearance and move within one frame of the championship.
Selby then held his nerve in magnificent fashion to close out the match and win it 18-15 with yet another composed break to seal his third world title.