Mark Selby on his rivalry with Ronnie and becoming a legend of snooker
In our exclusive interview, the Betway UK Champion discusses being considered an all-time great...
Mark Selby doesn’t run out of steam.
After six hours of intense, brilliant snooker and fulfilling media duties, the newly-crowned Betway UK Champion regaled punters at World Snooker’s wrap party with a karaoke version of Oasis’ Wonderwall.
He was the soul of the party well into the early hours of Monday morning, just as he had been on the baize at York’s Barbican Centre.
The buoyant celebration certainly matched the achievement.
Sunday’s victory ensured that he is just the sixth man to win the World Championship and UK Championship in the same calendar year.
Steve Davis – as well as Sunday’s runner-up Ronnie O’Sullivan – is on record stating that Selby is already one of the sport’s all-time greats.
Not that the Jester from Leicester is content to settle with his current lot.
"If anything, it’s motivation for me because if I’m at the top I obviously know that people are going to be trying harder to knock me off that perch," said Selby in the press room after his 10-7 win.
"That just means that I need to go back to the practice table and work harder and put more hours into it.
"My motivation was to try and win this tournament a second time. I didn’t think it would be this soon, but I came here confident.
"If they’re mentioning that, especially when it comes from someone like Ronnie – and Davis – then that’s a great compliment."
As the BBC’s Hazel Irvine said just minutes before Sunday’s epic final began, Selby v O’Sullivan is now snooker’s pre-eminent rivalry.
And it was clear from the extraordinary standard in the evening session – "snooker from the Gods" was John Parrott’s view – which produced five centuries in six frames that the two push each other.
"Obviously, I needed to come out of the blocks and play like that because Ronnie played faultless snooker for so many frames," said Selby, who now leads his head-to-head of Triple Crown finals against O'Sullivan 3-2.
"I don’t think I made that many mistakes for him to win the frames that he won. A lot of it was just off one long red and one visit.
"I was sitting there thinking to myself: 'If he carries on like that then there is nothing I can do.'
"You’ve just got to put your hands up.
"But I stayed calm and thought to myself: 'I’m going to get chances, it’s just a matter of whether I can take them.'
"Thankfully, I managed to do that.
"Now I wish I was going out there and playing another best of 19."
O’Sullivan has said on several occasions how he finds Selby’s dogged style difficult to counter.
The world No. 1, though, insists you can’t just defend against the Rocket.
"If you go and play Ronnie and try and shut up shop, then I just don’t think you can beat him," he said.
"People rave on about that he’s not a great safety player and it’s just his break-building that’s his strength, but that’s a load of old rubbish, really.
"He’s one of the best all-round players in our game.
"Some of the safety shots he plays, other people don’t even think of – playing with side instead of plain ball and stuff.
"He’s just a great, great player."
So, too, is Selby.
Snooker’s perfect ambassador is only growing stronger, beginning to monopolise the sport in a manner that has perhaps not been seen since Stephen Hendry in the nineties.
Semi-finalist Shaun Murphy’s tweet on Sunday evening said it all.
"Anyone watching the snooker has witnessed the bar being raised. Practice table for the rest of us."