Mark Selby stunned Ronnie O’Sullivan to reach the semi-finals of the World Championship with a 13-11 victory over a deflated Rocket.
Resuming at 9-7 the Jester from Leicester settled quickly into his rhythm as he fired in a break of 67 to take the opening frame of the session. Not one to be intimidated easily though, of course, Ronnie rolled together a break of 45 with a run of 13 to restore his two frame advantage at 10-8. Selby repsonded positively in the next frame with a break of 49 that ended with a missed red to the centre. Ronnie ran out of position as he attempted to counter and despite his lead, never really looked comfortable as Selby grew in self belief. Consequently Ronnie’s confidence seemed to drain away with every missed pot and errant positional shot. His cause certainly wasn’t helped when he broke down on 15 in trying to counter Selby’s initial effort and, even worse, he left Selby a mid-length red that the Leicester man pounced upon to make a decisive 33 and cut the deficit to 9-10.
To Ronnie’s credit he restored his advantage with a break of 75 in the following frame to edge 11-9 in front after the Leicester man missed a simple red to the corner. However it was perhaps the worst possible thing that could have happened, as Selby roared back with a magical burst of four frames. He hammered in a break of 108 to narrow the gap at 10-11, with O’Sullivan unable to offer anything in reply. From then on, the Leicester man was calling the shots and Ronnie’s body language told the story of a beaten man, powerless to turn the game around.
Forcing the pace and going for reckless shots was certainly not the way to go in frame 22 as it became a catalogue of errors with both men missing three straight pots to the centre pocket. Finally it was Selby who managed to hold his nerve with a vital break of 38 to level the match at 11-11.
Ronnie can only blame himself as he upped the ante while Selby kept to his steady routine. As Selby missed a pink to the centre it seemed to give the Rocket a chance. To a degree Ronnie answered the challenge, but breaking down on 39 was not enough to put any sizable pressure on Selby. Rather, it only gave Selby a second bite at the cherry which he devoured with break of 46 to lead 12-11.
So to frame 24 and what was to be the final one in a gripping quarter-final. Ronnie made the first move with an effort of 36 but missed a red to the centre. Selby however couldn’t take immediate advantage and missed a long red by a mile. A reprieve for Ronnie – no chance as he missed a straight red to the centre that was to cost him dearly. With one red left on the table Ronnie was also snookered behind the yellow. He escaped but then left the red at Selby’s mercy. Thereafter there was to be no way back as selby slammed in the red, yellow, green and an amazing brown to seal victory and accept Ronnie’s hand in congratulations. Selby now takes his place in the semi-finals where he will face Graeme Dott for a place in the final.