Mark Selby’s penchant for slow, tactical frames has led to numerous re-racks at the 2021 World Snooker Championship, and there was another against Shaun Murphy.
Stuart Bingham reached boiling point against Selby on Saturday evening not long after a painstaking frame in the five-session marathon match during which the referee had to call for two re-racks. Bingham would later accuse his opponent of “gamesmanship” and of deliberately slowing the match down.
There was a similar feel to proceedings in the final on Sunday evening as Murphy, who barely missed a ball as he sought his usual free-flowing and aggressive brand of snooker, got dragged into a host of seemingly interminable safety exchanges.
That didn’t seem to the be the case at the start of the 12th frame, as the 2005 champion downed a long red to kick things off, but when his options dried up with a small lead of 8-0, Selby decided it was time to stamp his mark on the action.
The Jester from Leicester rolled the cue ball up to the pack of reds and left Murphy with little choice but to then do the same, after which referee Paul Collier swiftly deemed that he and the packed Crucible crowd had seen enough.
Eurosport commentator Philip Studd explained: “Paul Collier intervening very quickly and that’s absolutely sensible. We will start again.
“We’ve had a few in this tournament – as if this tournament was not long enough as it is!”
Selby ended up winning the marathon 12th frame to draw level with Murphy at 6-6 with the Crucible showpiece seeming to be very finely poised ahead of its conclusion on Monday
Mark Selby bounced back from a below-par opening session to secure a 10-7 lead over Shaun Murphy in the final of the World Championship.
Murphy took advantage of Selby’s disappointing play in the afternoon to open up a 5-3 lead, but the world number three was back to his granite-like best in the evening.
The pressure Selby exerted eventually told on Murphy, whose potting unravelled towards the end of the evening.
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The session ended at a good time for Murphy who has the opportunity to regroup and attempt to find the form that catapulted him to the final, but Selby looks in a mood to dominate.
Murphy made a fine start to the second session, stroking in a long red. However, he broke down on 49 – setting the tone for the evening – paying the price for not going into the reds when seemingly with a good angle on the black. He missed the split one shot later and Selby countered with an 85 to take the opener.
“A terrible safety,” as described by Eurosport’s Philip Studd, cost Selby in the following frame.
Selby safety mistakes are rare; as Studd described, it was a shocker – cannoning a red full ball in attempting to get back to baulk – to let Murphy in and he hoovered up an excellent break of 98.
As in the first two frames of the evening, Murphy was in first only to run out of position and Selby stepped in to edge ahead and win a protracted