"When the going gets tough, the tough get going" is a popular motto and one that Mark Selby seems to live by at the snooker table. He continued his remarkable ability to get the job done in final-frame deciders as he won a thrilling Masters final against Ronnie O'Sullivan 10-9 on Sunday evening in London to complete a fine comeback that saw him win the final four frames of the match.
Seven times, the man from Leicester has faced a one-frame shoot-out against an opponent at the Wembley event and on every occasion he has come out on top. Of his knack for triumphing in tight situations, Selby, 26, said: "I went into the final frame probably more confident than Ronnie was because of the deciding frames I've won here," said Selby. "You are looking for one chance, then if you don't win, you can't moan.
"Obviously I'd rather avoid a final frame decider and win earlier but who cares? I don't know what it is. With the one-table situation every time you come out here it is like a final. I love the atmosphere and seem to thrive on it." He is hoping that the victory will help push him on to world championship success in April, with his previous best performance being runner-up in 2007. He said: "I got off to a bad start to the season but this should give me the confidence to kick on."
Breaks of 27 and 37 in the 19th frame proved enough for Selby to clinch the title for the second time, with his previous success being in 2008. Selby had always been on the back foot against O'Sullivan, the world No 1, and after losing the afternoon session 5-3 he had been looking down the barrel of defeat when O'Sullivan won the 15th frame to go 9-6 up. But Selby hit back and he said: "It was the best match I've been involved in. The standard was good in parts and the atmosphere was great, especially against Ronnie here in London. It's a dream come true.
"I was just thinking, 'Dig in and take one frame at a time', because in this game a run of the ball here and there can change the match. I thought if I have to scrap it out I will scrap it out." A disappointed O'Sullivan was left to reflect on a missed green in the penultimate frame for wrecking his hopes of winning for a fourth time at Wembley. "You have to take your chances when you get them," he said. "That wasn't an easy shot but sometimes you have to take the game by the scruff of the neck. Sometimes they go in sometime they don't. It's one of those things."
"You don't expect people to miss balls. I surprised myself by getting to the final, so I'm not too disappointed." @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org