Mark Selby completes comeback, claims third world championship

Champion Mark Selby shakes hands with four-time winner John Higgins before the start of the Snooker World Championships final. Steven Paston/PA Images via Getty Images

Mark Selby pulled off one of the most astonishing victories in a Crucible final as he landed his third Betfred World Championship title.

When he trailed John Higgins by 10-4 on Sunday evening, Selby had looked beaten, on the scoreboard and in his cheerless demeanour, but a colossal comeback saw him roll to an 18-15 victory.

There was a moment of huge controversy late in the day, when Selby attempted to roll up behind the black and snooker Higgins, only for referee Jan Verhaas to decide the ball had run up short.

He called a foul, briefly rowed back on his decision, before reinstating the original call.

Selby seemed nonplussed but gathered his composure, and victory made him just the fourth player to successfully defend a world title in Sheffield, after Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry and Ronnie O'Sullivan.

That level of company reflects Selby's status as a modern-day snooker great.

"I decided if I was going to lose I'd go down fighting," said Selby. "It's a fantastic feeling. I was confident coming here because of the season I've had. But at 10-4 down I thought there was no way in the world I was coming back from that.

"I wanted to try to make it respectable and at one stage I was thinking I could lose with a session to spare. I was sitting there and thinking, 'Try to get your act together, try and find something from within, just take one frame at a time'."

No player had come back to win from a greater deficit than six frames in a World Championship final since Dennis Taylor trailed Steve Davis by 8-0 and 9-1 in their 1985 classic.

Three world titles in four years could be followed by several more in the years ahead and asked about Selby's prospects of further world titles, Higgins said: "I think Mark will add to that, whether it's one, two, three or four.

"He's the toughest player I've ever played. He looks as if he could be the challenger to Stephen Hendry's seven, I really believe that because he's just granite, he really is. It's really tough to play against. I take my hat off to him -- fantastic."

Asked whether Selby was now up there with the all-time greats, Higgins said: "Without a shadow of a doubt."