World Championship - Mark Selby takes centre stage at Crucible

Mark Selby produced a Crucible masterclass to stun Mark Williams at the Betfred World Championship.

Leicester's Mark Selby. Photo: Zac Goodwin/PA

“If Mark plays like that then no one can stop him,” was Williams’s verdict, after the three-time world champion suffered a 13-3 quarter-final defeat, with a session to spare in Sheffield.

Williams, fresh from an impressive second-round win over John Higgins, simply had no answers against Selby, the 37-year-old from Leicester looking to add a fourth Crucible crown to his collection.

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Selby – who won the title in 2014, 2016 and 2017 – has only lost 11 frames in his opening three matches, after thrashing Kurt Maflin 10-1, before beating Mark Allen 13-7.

And he will open up against Stuart Bingham in today’s semi-final as the man to beat.

Leading 6-2 overnight, Selby cruised to a one-sided victory with breaks of 96, 58, 66, 48, 50 and 54.

“I felt great from start to finish – I have done since the start of the event,” said Selby.

“It’s nice to produce that out in the arena.

“I watched Mark play John Higgins and he played great, although John wasn’t at his best.

“I knew it would be a tough match but I was on my game

“Hopefully I can sustain the same level and in a few days time win a fourth world title. But I’m not getting ahead of myself because I need to keep playing the same way.

“I will try to stay as calm and relaxed as possible. I don’t mind who I play next, when you are at the table it doesn’t matter who is in the other seat. If anything this means more to me because I know the feeling of being last man standing. That makes me want to go out and do it again.”

For Crucible veteran Williams, it was one of the 46-year-old’s heaviest defeats in Sheffield, matching the 13-3 loss to Ding Junhui back in 2016.

Williams said: “I was totally outplayed, I knew it was over once it got to 10-2. If Mark plays like that then no one can stop him.”

In the other semi-final, Kyren Wilson will face 2005 world champion Shaun Murphy, meaning an all-English line-up in the last four for only the fifth time in Crucible history.

Last year’s Crucible runner-up, Wilson secured his return to the one-table set-up, beating 2010 world champion Neil Robertson 13-8.

Wilson – who has appeared in at least the quarter-finals for six consecutive seasons, but is the only one of the four remaining players not to have won the world title – certainly has found a liking for the Crucible stage.

Tied 8-8 overnight, Wilson set the tone with an opening 133, before breaks of 59, 62 and 84 confirmed victory.

“I am delighted to get over the line,” admitted Wilson. “Today I focussed on what was at stake and what I needed to do. I channelled the positive thoughts and went for it. The century in the first frame got me motoring.”

Bingham edged a final frame decider over Anthony McGill to book his place back in the semi-finals for the first time since he won the tournament in 2015.

Bingham described his 125 clearance as “definitely the best of my career” after converting a 10-7 deficit into a 12-10 lead – then withstanding a gritty fightback from McGill.

Bingham said: “It feels just as emotional to get back to the one-table set-up as it did for the first time in 2015. It’s just the Holy Grail of the sport and I’m proud of the way I held it together because it’s not easy playing under that kind of pressure.”

Murphy repelled a strong Judd Trump comeback to claim a 13-11 victory and book his place back in the semi-finals for the first time since 2015. Resuming 10-6 behind, Trump reeled off five of the first six frames of the evening session, hauling himself level in the match with a clearance of 111. But Murphy recovered his poise with consecutive breaks of 70 and 62.

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