Masters Snooker: Defending champion Mark Selby beats Mark Davis 6-5 in thriller

Last Updated: 12/01/14 10:19pm

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Mark Selby: Edged a cagey 55-minute final frame to beat Mark Davis

Mark Selby: Edged a cagey 55-minute final frame to beat Mark Davis

Sky Bet

Defending Masters champion Mark Selby edged out a battling Mark Davis 6-5 in his opening round match at Alexandra Palace.

The 'Jester from Leicester' cruised into a 4-0 lead, but was forced to fight for victory against fellow Englishman Davis in the end in a cagey 55-minute final frame after the 41-year-old drew the match level at 5-5 following two half-century breaks.

The 30-year-old, who has won the prestigious invitational event three times - in 2008, 2010 and last year - came through following a tense safety exchange to sink a red in the middle pocket and book his place in the quarter-finals.

Breaks of 59 and 80 helped Selby cruise through the opening four frames, before Davis hit back after the mid-session interval to pull a frame back with a break of 80.

Davis fightback

Davis then claimed the sixth but Selby pounced on a missed red in the next to take the best-of-11 match to 5-2 in his favour.

A break of 136 earned Davis the accolade of scoring the first century knock in the tournament as he also claimed the eighth frame, and he scrapped out the next with a 49 clearance to move to within one of Selby.

"For whatever reason, I struggled a bit. Every credit to Mark (Davis). He came back strongly. You just have to wipe out everything that has gone before and focus on the final frame."
Mark Selby

Davis showed why he is nicknamed 'The Battler' from Hastings when he took command of the 10th frame with a break of 62, before putting Selby to the sword with a 61 clearance after a mistake by the world No 1.

That set up a tense decider which lasted just short of an hour due to missed pots and a lengthy safety battle, but Selby rallied to claim victory.

After his win, Selby told worldsnooker.com: "I controlled the match to go 4-0 ahead, but I seemed to go back out and lose focus.

"For whatever reason, I struggled a bit. Every credit to Mark. He came back strongly. You just have to wipe out everything that has gone before and focus on the final frame."

In the evening game, four-time world champion John Higgins defeated Stuart Bingham 6-2.

Higgins took the first frame before Bingham levelled at 1-1, but then the Scot stole a march to move 5-1 ahead.

A brief rally from the 37-year-old Basildon-born Bingham saw him cut the deficit to 5-2, but the writing was on the wall and Higgins won the next frame to join Selby in the last eight.

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