Selby looking to join elite list of stars with hat-trick of snooker’s top titles

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Mark Selby hopes to clinch snooker’s hat-trick by adding the World Championship to his Masters and UK titles in the same season.

Only three players have achieved the feat, and the Leciester potter already has two trophies in the bag ahead of the Crucible.

He opens his tournament on Tuesday with a first-round match against Matthew Selt and Selby knows he must be wary of the Crucible debut-maker.

“It’s probably the best season I’ve had leading into the World Championship,” said the world No 1. “I’m feeling confident, looking forward to it and can’t wait to get started. If I win the World Championship I think I’ll be one of only four players to have won the UK and Masters in the same season. But it’s a tough tournament to win. It lasts over two weeks and there’s a lot of great players in it. It’s great to have Ronnie (O’Sullivan) playing in it, but it’s going to be tough.”

The only three players to have collected all three major trophies at once are Steve Davis (1987-88), Stephen Hendry (1989-90, 1995-96) and Mark Williams (2002-03).

Standing in Selby’s way first up is 28-year-old Romford potter Selt, a practice partner of O’Sullivan’s.

“Matthew Selt is a great player. He’s been on the Tour a few years now and done brilliantly to qualify,” he said.

“It’s going to be a tough game for me, but at the same time it’s his first time there (at the Crucible) so it depends on how he adapts.

“There are players out there who thrive on the pressure or collapse. Hopefully for me he doesn’t play as well as he can.

“I know Matt really well and he’ll fancy the job, he does in every tournament. I’m sure he doesn’t want to go the Crucible and get knocked out in the first round. I’m sure he’s got the hunger for it and wants to be in the tournament a while.”