CHINA OPEN SNOOKER: MARK SELBY DEFENDS TITLE AHEAD OF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP HAT-TRICK BID AT THE CRUCIBLE
Mark Selby successfully defended his China Open title with a brilliant 11-3 victory over Barry Hawkins to set himself up perfectly for his bid to claim a hat-trick of World Snooker Championship titles.
Selby claimed the £225,000 first prize with a clinical demolition job on Hawkins, as he raced into an 8-2 lead after the opening session before taking three of the four frames in the second session to complete the win.
Mark Selby is the 7/2 second favourite with Sky Bet for the World Championship
The fine victory was cemented by a break of 132 in the deciding frame as Selby claimed his third China Open title and 14th ranking event overall.
The win is the perfect way for Selby to warm up for his bid to make it three world titles in a row at the Crucible, with the China Open being the final ranking event before the big one kicks off in Sheffield.
Selby also won the China Open last year before going on to claim his second successive World Snooker Championship title.
"I played good matchplay snooker in the first session and capitalised on the balls that Barry missed," said Selby in quotes on World Snooker's official website. “Then I scored well in the second session. I have felt good all week, as if my game was coming back. It’s very satisfying to be able to go out there knowing my game is in good shape. Coming here I didn’t know what to expect, but it couldn’t have gone any better.
"In the early part of my career I got to a lot of ranking finals and lost. I doubted myself for a while. Since then it has been hard work, dedication and practice, I started winning them and gained more belief.
"The way I have performed in most of my matches here, playing well and scoring well, my confidence will be high going to Sheffield."
Hawkins said: "I’m very disappointed because I played so well yesterday in the semi-finals. I didn’t give Mark a game today, I made it so easy for him. I just kept missing easy balls and I don’t know why. I was confident going into the match, but as it went on that faded away.
"Mark is so tough to play against. He’s happy to scrap it out, but then when he comes back to the table he finds his rhythm again. I struggle to do that, maybe that’s something I need to learn. He makes his opponents play badly and that’s a great weapon to have."