World Championship: Pressure on for Selby to bring home trophy for daughter

World champion Mark Selby.  Picture Tony Johnson.
World champion Mark Selby. Picture Tony Johnson.
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Mark Selby has a special fan willing him to complete a hat-trick of Betfred World Championship titles – his three-year-old daughter Sofia.

The world No 1 opens up the defence of his crown at the Crucible on Saturday morning against Joe Perry, looking to win his fourth world title in five years.

Crucible launch on Friday.

Crucible launch on Friday.

This season has been relatively poor for 34-year-old Selby, but victory at this month’s China Open finally saw the Leicester cueman pocket another title.

And it produced a touching moment from his daughter.

“I came back from China got through the door and Sofia asked ‘have you got me a trophy?’ and I’ve opened the box and there it is,” he smiled. “The next day I put it in the snooker room and she’s looking for it and goes ‘where’s my trophy?’. It’s nice you can have those moments.

“At the same time I got back from a tournament earlier in the season where I hadn’t done so well and I came through the door expecting a big hug and she says ‘daddy you didn’t win’ and it soon brings you back down to earth.

“Hopefully there’s not too much pressure to bring the trophy back.

“Sofia’s growing up. It’s harder going away to tournaments now because she’s understanding a bit more now.

“But at the same time that’s what you’re doing it for, for them, and that’s what keeps you going.”

The odds of another trophy for Sofia are in Selby’s favour, with his recent record in Sheffield impressive. He has been beaten just once – in a second-round defeat to Anthony McGill – since losing to Barry Hawkins in 2013.

But Selby – whose Crucible wins came in 2014, 2016 and 2017 – believes this year’s tournament will be tough.

“I think this is one of the toughest World Championships I’ve been in,” said Selby, who reached his first Crucible final in 2007.

“If you just look at some of the first-round matches and there’s a lot of great players playing well at the moment.

“Ryan Day’s having the best season of the career and he’s had to qualify, Stephen Maguire’s a tough draw, (Graeme) Dott having to qualify, some great players. It’s going to be tough.

“You always seem to try that little bit harder in this tournament because it is the World Championship. It’s the one everyone wants to win.”

His 11-3 win over Barry Hawkins in Beijing at the China Open was a welcome trophy, but there was no panic from a player who has retained the world No 1 tag for seven consecutive seasons.

“I wasn’t really having doubts because I knew the last three or four years I’ve been so consistent and at one point I was always going to have a rocky patch somewhere done the line,” he said.

“There was always going to be a spell when you don’t play well and that’s been this year.

“Some of it was in the best-of-seven-frame tournaments where you don’t have to do too much wrong really.

“In the shorter formats one ball can sort of lose you the match really.”