Selby in confident frame of mind during his title defence

Mark Selby on his way to defeating Xiao Guodong (Picture: Tim Goode/PA Wire).
Mark Selby on his way to defeating Xiao Guodong (Picture: Tim Goode/PA Wire).
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Defending champion Mark Selby says he is feeling little pressure in his attempt to win a third Betfred World Championship title.

Selby remains on course for back-to-back crowns after booking a quarter-final place with a convincing 13-6 win over Xiao Guodong.

The pre-tournament favourite, who led 10-6 overnight, began yesterday’s session in blistering style, winning three successive frames to quickly dispose of his Chinese opponent.

Selby, Crucible winner in 2014 and 2016, produced a century (101) in the opening frame of the session – his only one in the match – and then cleared up with a break of 73 to take the second after Xiao twice let him back in.

World No 44 Xiao had given himself hope in the match by winning the final two frames on Sunday, but he failed to recapture that form as Selby sealed a comfortable passage into the next round with a break of 60.

“I felt as though I played a really solid game and didn’t really make too many mistakes,” said Selby.

“I put Xiao under pressure and a lot of the time when he missed I seemed to capitalise.

“Coming into this session with a four-frame lead was vital.

“Xiao is a great player. He got to the final at the Shanghai Masters a few years ago and I thought he was going to kick on. He didn’t really and sort of hit a brick wall for a couple of seasons.

“He’s proved again this tournament what a great player he is and he has a good future.

“I don’t feel under pressure as much, but I suppose that goes down to the season I’ve had leading into it.

“If I’d come here having not won anything and struggling a bit for form it would have been a little bit different with the defending champion tag on my back.

“But that isn’t the case this year and I seem to be really relaxed and enjoying my snooker and I think it is showing.”

The world No 1 will next face the winner of the matchNeil Robertson and Marco Fu, with those two locked at 10-10 midway through a thrilling clash.

On the other table, former finalist Barry Hawkins set up a last-eight meeting with Stephen Maguire by overcoming 2006 champion Graeme Dott.

World No 7 Hawkins, who lost the 2013 final to Ronnie O’Sullivan, was three frames from victory when play restarted and he made light work of Dott to complete a 13-6 success.