World Championship - Mark Selby takes centre stage at Crucible

Leicester's Mark Selby. Photo: Zac Goodwin/PALeicester's Mark Selby. Photo: Zac Goodwin/PA
Leicester's Mark Selby. Photo: Zac Goodwin/PA
Mark Selby produced a Crucible masterclass to stun Mark Williams at the Betfred World Championship.

“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.

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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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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