Mark Selby ready to dominate snooker after winning fourth world title at the Crucible

Mark Selby believes he is better equipped to defy the external pressures which afflicted his previous reign as world snooker champion and go on to dominate the sport.

Helping hand: Mark Selby, right, poses with coach Chris Henry after winning the title at The Crucible. (Picture: Zac Goodwin/PA)

Selby won his fourth Crucible title on Monday night, with his 18-15 victory over Shaun Murphy moving him level with John Higgins on the all-time list of multiple winners.

The 37-year-old’s previous world crown in 2017 hastened a remarkable decline in form which saw him fail to win a British-based ranking event in the subsequent two-and-a-half years.

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But under the guidance of coach Chris Henry, Selby appears to have emerged stronger for the experience and has vowed not to rest until he has reclaimed the world No 1 ranking from Judd Trump.

England's Mark Selby after winning his fourth world title (Picture: PA)

Selby said: “It’s been my aim since I lost the world No 1spot to win it back, which I know will be difficult because Judd is playing some unbelievable stuff.

“He’s been miles in front of everyone, and it’s going to be tough for me to come back and defend the points I’ve won this year, but I definitely feel in a much better place.

“Working with Chris off the table has helped me a huge amount. I was getting a bit fragile over the last few years doubting myself, and he’s put that to bed.

“I’m back to believing in myself again and obviously you can’t win this tournament if you’re doubting yourself.”

England's Mark Selby beat Shaun Murphy in the final (Picture: PA)

In a series of candid interviews earlier this year, Selby revealed he had suicidal thoughts as a teenager following the death of his father David to cancer in 1999.

It contributed to his dramatic collapse in form in which he slumped from a seemingly unassailable position at the top of the world rankings, and crashed out in the first round the following year.

Having struggled at times to hold the past at bay, Selby said his latest world title win was a tribute to all those who had stood by him and helped him get his life and career back on track.

“My past always flares up now and again and with snooker you have so many highs and lows,” continued Selby. “When I was struggling and having the lows from snooker, all the other bad thoughts came back as well, and having my close friends and family around me telling me to dig in helped matters.

“At times, you don’t always think you’re going to pick yourself back up, but thankfully they stood by me and here I am today.”

Selby’s brand of tough, no-nonsense snooker had made him seem a virtual certainty to climb the list of multiple winners at the famous venue.

Inevitably, the manner of his resurgence has raised the prospect of him chasing the likes of six-time winners Steve Davis and Ronnie O’Sullivan, and even Stephen Hendry on a record seven.

“To win three was unbelievable, and to now equal somebody like John Higgins, who is one of the all-time greats, is beyond my wildest dreams,” added Selby.

“If you’d said to me when I was a young lad starting out that I’d be 37 years old with four world titles, I’d probably have laughed at you.

“But I’m not getting any younger and I’ve still got a long way to go to catch Stephen. You look at how good Ronnie is and he is still one behind, but I’m still in there with a chance.”

Murphy paid tribute to Selby, saying: “He’s just super-granite. Unfortunately for me, I’ve known him since we were nine years of age and he’s always been the same.

“I started the match well and he just went into super-hard mode and broke me – it was a tough lead to give him overnight (10-7) in a match of this calibre and it probably made the difference.”

Selby strode out for the final session with a 14-11 advantage, but well aware of the danger posed by Murphy, who had roared into the final in the kind of free-flowing form that evoked memories of his charge to the title as a fresh-faced qualifier in 2005.

By his own admission, Murphy, who was based in Rotherham when he lifted the crown, had endured a dismal season under lockdown, complicated by travel restrictions from his home in Ireland, and conceded he had been as surprised as anyone to rediscover his game on the biggest stage.

But despite responding with back-to-back centuries when Selby stood one frame from victory, it proved to be a case of what might have been for Murphy, who missed two earlier opportunities to cut Selby’s advantage to a single frame.

Selby, whose win moved him back up to No 2 in the world rankings, said of his opponent: “Shaun’s played fantastic all the way though the match and he’s a great player and ambassador for the game and it’s great to see (him) back.

“To win the title is asolutely incredible – every time you get to a world final you always try your hardest because it’s such a tough tournament to get there and you never know if it’s going to be your last or not.

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