Snooker World Championship - Mark Selby wins marathon semi-final as Stuart Bingham fades late on
Three-time world champion Mark Selby appeared set to reach the final of the World Snooker Championship when he opened the scoring with just one further frame required against Stuart Bingham in the afternoon, and later secured a 17-15 victory over his opponent in a brief fifth session which allowed him to finally wrap up victory late on Saturday.
Selby can't believe his luck with 'spectacular' fluke against Bingham
Mark Selby reached the final of the 2021 Snooker World Championship as he won 17-15 in a marathon semi-final with Stuart Bingham that needed five sessions and more than 11 hours to complete.
Selby won the first frame of the fourth session to keep the score narrow at 13-12, but after one hour and 10 minutes, the score was the same as the second frame went to two re-racks when the pair could not escape an intractable safety exchange.
Next, Selby got a break with a long pot that missed before hitting a succession of cushions to finally drop in its intended pocket, as the Leicester player started to build a break with a more deliberate and impressive pot that developed into a careful, measured century - the 100th of the tournament so far.
With the scores level at 13-13, it was Bingham’s turn to fight through a tough set-up as he adroitly manoeuvred the cue ball across the table. He focused on the blue and pink initially to start to remove reds from the baize to get a century of his own, and set a new record for the championship.
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A chance for Bingham to move two-up was passed up with a miss of a straightforward red, allowing Selby in, but he wasted his chance to tie-up a frame when he only put on 28, though Bingham was unable to put scores on the board himself as Selby crawled to 53, before moving to 57-1 after scrappy play from both players.
Bingham looked to have a fighting chance of making Selby work for the frame, but after missing a simple pink he allowed his opponent to level at 14-14 at the mid-session interval. With the match duration approaching 10 hours, the pair came back to the table for a best-of-five decider.
Selby established a lead of 40-0 before Bingham had the chance to get to the table to fight back, but clipped a red and was lucky to see his opponent make an error. Bingham then struggled to 51 before being forced to nudge in behind the pink to set Selby a challenge, which he was equal to, going ahead for the first time since he was 8-7 ahead.
The next frame saw what should have been an easy, early red hit the jaw and rattle out from Bingham, allowing Selby in to give himself a cushion with yet another century, finishing in time for just one more frame to be played.
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The former world champion looked to be on his way to the final when he grabbed 44 before letting Bingham in for an attempt to save the game, and he won the final frame of the session to enforce a follow-on after Shaun Murphy wrapped up his victory over Kyren Wilson in the other semi-final.
In the first frame of the fifth and final session, Bingham had to win that - and any further frame to come - were he to stay in the match.
WIth 18 behind and 27 remaining as Bingham took a 41-59 lead, he left Selby up against the black having to play off the cushions in the hope of finding the yellow.
It looked as if Selby was going to struggle to play his way out of trouble until Bingham’s slack safety shot failed to get in behind the green, and Selby celebrated as he cleared up to secure his passage to the final.
'Delighted' Selby pays tribute to Bingham after semi-final win