Mark Selby became the first player to reach the semi-finals of the 888casino Champion of Champions event at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry as he survived a long day, defeating Shaun Murphy in the afternoon and then Stephen Maguire in the evening to come through Group 2.
It was an outstanding performance from the World No.2 – which included three centuries – as he overcame any tiredness following a gruelling weekend. After defeating Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final of a European Tour event in Antwerp on Sunday evening, Selby drove through the night with his wife, arriving home in Leicester at 5.30 on Monday morning.
None of this seemed to have an impact on the Leicester man as he played 15 frames of snooker and looked as fresh at the close as he did at the beginning. After trailing 3-2 to Maguire he reeled off four consecutive frames for victory, including runs of 103, 77 and 117.
Selby was very pleased with his performance; “I played really well there after the mid-session interval. Stephen won a big frame to go 2-2 when I was in control looking like going 3-1 in front, and then straight after the interval he had a great break to go 3-2 up and I thought I was in trouble.
“I managed to turn it around and I was really happy with the way I played. Whenever you get a chance against these top players you need to capitalise because if you don’t they seem to do it to you.
“Having won Antwerp I came here with a lot of confidence, because I beat some good players there and I think that showed today.
“I will have tomorrow off and recover and then back to the practice table on Thursday and Friday, without really overdoing it because I want to stay fresh for the weekend.”
For Maguire it was a disappointing evening which had started promisingly: “When I won the first frame after the interval I thought I had a grip on the match,” he said.
“I seemed to get in first, I seemed to get the chance first in each of the frames and I never did it. Any time I missed, Mark got in and it was one-visit stuff which I couldn’t do.
“I will go home now, have a day off and go straight back into it. I will keep an eye on this tournament in the practice room and get ready for the UK Championship.”
The 888casino Champion of Champions is a brand new event featuring winners of all major tournaments over the past 12 months. The players are grouped into four groups of four and contest semi-finals and then a final all on the same day.
The winners then move forward to the weekend where there are two semi-finals on Saturday followed by the final on Sunday 24th November. The total prize-fund is £270,000 with £100,000 going to the champion.
Earlier Maguire had come from 3-2 down to pip John Higgins 4-3 in the all-Scottish clash. Maguire looked good compiling breaks of 125, 92, 52 and 66 but Higgins squandered opportunities to take the match when needing a frame to win.
Selby had looked comfortable in beating Sean Murphy, who along with Mark Davis, made the starting line-up as a wildcard based on highest ranked players not already qualified.
Play continues tomorrow as Group 3 takes place with Judd Trump v Marco Fu and then Ricky Walden v Stuart Bingham.
GROUP TWO RESULTS
Mark Selby 6-3 Stephen Maguire
21-57, 66-36 (Selby 41, Maguire 32), 113-1 (113), 53-71 (52), 1-77 (77), 103-0 (103), 77-1 (77), 117-16 (117), 63-12.
Mark Selby 4-2 Shaun Murphy
0-75 (69), 77-0 (31, 42), 87-0 (32, 55), 64-6 (58), 1-85 (47), 89-2 (66)
Stephen Maguire 4-3 John Higgins
11-82 (59), 125-4 (125), 2-67 (34), 93-4 (92), 22-99 (99), 68-39 (52), 71-0 (66)