Four-time world champion Mark Selby threatened to quit snooker after losing in the Tour Championship to Gary Wilson, who also described his winning performance as “embarrassing”.

Wilson sealed a 10-8 victory with a clearance of 105, but both players were scathing about their performance in Manchester.

“I mean I was pathetic really, from start to finish,” Selby told ITV4. “Probably one of the worst games I’ve played as a professional. Definitely up there for sure.

“If I carry on playing like that, then yeah, I won’t be enjoying it and I will be choosing a different career for sure.

“Neither of us played great in the second session, Gary played well on Monday and deserved his 5-3 lead. Today neither of us played great. I was like that all match. I deserved to lose.

“I will give the World Championship a go, but if I keep playing like that, I’m not going to carry on.”

Wilson believes he will have to improve ahead of his quarter-final against Zhang Anda, telling ITV4: “I don’t know how I won to be honest. I’m just thankful Mark didn’t play very well because I was embarrassing.

“The cue action wasn’t even there yesterday – it may have looked a bit better but I just felt deep down all along, I was struggling. I was hitting everything really quick and snatchy and just tried to keep plugging away.”

Reminded that he had made breaks of 95, 98, 78 and 101 in taking a 5-3 lead from Monday’s opening session and must therefore have been cueing well, Wilson replied: “Incorrect.

“I was not cueing very well at all but I can score when I’m not cueing well. That was feeling really bad and it was feeling even worse today and that’s why I missed so many easy balls, gave him so many chances and lifelines.

“Really, if I’d been playing decent and Mark had played as bad as he did there, I should have won that 10-3, 10-4. It was that bad it became really close and I’m just thankful he didn’t play very well either.

“I’m not enjoying it but we go again on Thursday and I’m just hoping I can find something between now and then.”

Ali Carter will face bitter rival Ronnie O’Sullivan in the quarter-finals after holding off a spirited fightback from Barry Hawkins.

Carter raced into a 7-1 lead after Hawkins had won the opening frame, but the left-hander won seven of the first nine frames in the evening session, including taking the 17th frame on a respotted black after needing two snookers.

However, Carter held his nerve to win the next and seal a 10-8 victory which sets up a showdown with O’Sullivan, 11 weeks after the pair were involved in a war of words following the Masters final won by O’Sullivan.

“I relish the challenge now because he’s the best player ever to pick up a cue,” Carter told ITV4. “To play him in another quarter-final, I’ve played him in a final this year, I’m in the right place.”

Mark Williams produced a superb clearance of 66 in the deciding frame to edge out Tom Ford 10-9 and set up a quarter-final with Judd Trump.

“I was dead on my feet for the last hour and three quarters, I was absolutely shattered,” said Williams, who has just returned from a trip to China.

“I thought it was all over. Where that clearance in the last frame came from I do not know. It was probably one of the best clearances I’ve done.”

Judd Trump is one win away from a fifth ranking title of the season after beating Jackson Page in the semi-finals of the World Open.

Trump will face China’s Ding Junhui in the final in Yushan after beating an unfortunate Page 6-2, the Welshman cutting his finger while taking his cue out of its case before the match.

“The buckle of the case ripped the skin on my finger,” Page said. “I was praying for it not to bleed, but then it started bleeding.

“I tried putting a plaster on, but then I couldn’t feel the cue so I had to take it off. It’s not an ideal start in your first semi-final.”

Trump, who won this event the last time it was staged in 2019, opened with a break of 122 and won four frames in a row following the interval after Jackson’s break of 72 had made it 2-2.

“It was a scrappy game, neither of us played well, we both missed a lot of balls,” Trump said.

“It was Jackson’s first semi-final and he didn’t really settle, my experience probably made the difference.

“I haven’t played that well this week, I have scraped my way through with sheer determination, but that has been the case at other tournaments I have won this season. Hopefully things click in the final.”

Victory in the final would give world number two Trump a 28th career ranking title, moving him level with Steve Davis on the all-time list and behind only Ronnie O’Sullivan, Stephen Hendry and John Higgins.

The other semi-final proved a tense affair between Ding and Neil Robertson, which went to a deciding frame.

Breaks of 67 and 118 had seen Robertson open up an early 3-1 lead.

Ding, though, responded with two half-century runs of his own to edge back in front.

Robertson made 128 in the ninth frame despite becoming frustrated with the frequent interruptions from mobile phones in the noisy crowd, the Australian appearing to point out one serial offender to the referee.

However, Ding responded again as he took a tense 10th frame with a break of 68.

Then after Robertson had missed a chance to wrap up victory when looking set on a break of 53, the world number nine clinched a hard-earned place in the final with a run of 24 to win the deciding frame 70-56.

Ronnie O’Sullivan stepped up his game to sink Lyu Haotian and book his place in the last 16 of the World Open in Yushan.

The world number one had looked rusty in his previous round win over Michael White but got back in the groove to shrug off the determined world number 28.

Lyu twice hit back to level in the first four frames but O’Sullivan would not be denied and breaks of 106 and 96 in the final three frames to set up a meeting with Hossein Vafaei.

Judd Trump, who won the tournament when it was last staged in 2019, stayed on course for a repeat performance as he fired two centuries in a 5-3 win over Fan Zhengyi.

Trump’s performance was upstaged by Ding Junhui and Shaun Murphy, both of whom compiled three centuries as they secured victories over Cao Yupeng and Joe Perry respectively.

Neil Robertson and Mark Selby were also winners, but world champion Luca Brecel’s recent return to form juddered to a halt as he was thrashed 5-1 by Stephen Maguire.

Ronnie O’Sullivan vowed to pocket the golden ball next year after beating Luca Brecel in the final of the inaugural World Masters of Snooker.

O’Sullivan beat the world champion 5-2 in Saudi Arabia to win his fifth title of the campaign.

But his victory did not include potting the golden ball, which sits on the bottom cushion for as long as a maximum break is possible and is worth £395,000 if potted in addition to the 147.

John Higgins came the closest to getting a shot on the golden ball throughout the tournament in Riyadh, but having potted all 15 reds and blacks in the first frame of his second-round match against Mark Williams he ran out of position on the yellow.

O’Sullivan, who pocketed £250,000 by winning the tournament, is keen to achieve the feat at next year’s event.

“It’s been a fantastic tournament, a fantastic venue, the crowd have been amazing,” O’Sullivan told DAZN.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve been to the Middle East and to be back here is a treat.

“I’ll get the golden ball next year. I didn’t want to take it all at once.

“I’ll take the tournament this year and then the golden ball next year. It’ll be great.”

O’Sullivan had a break of 95 to take the opening frame but Brecel came back strong in the second to level.

The Belgian took a quickfire third frame with a break of 81 to edge into the lead but a missed black in the next allowed O’Sullivan to tie things up again with a 94 clearance.

And O’Sullivan raced to victory after the interval, with breaks of 121 and 124 securing a 79th professional title.

Runner-up Brecel said: “It’s been a fantastic few days. I’ve really enjoyed playing and I think the crowd has been fantastic.”

Snooker becomes the latest sport to head to Saudi Arabia this week and with it comes a new twist – the golden ball.

The 23rd ball will make its debut at the World Masters of Snooker in Riyadh, which runs through to Wednesday, and here, the PA news agency looks at how it will all work.

What is the golden ball?

Traditionally snooker has comprised of 22 balls; 15 reds and six colours plus the white cue ball, but the World Masters is introducing a 23rd – the golden ball. The purpose of this new ball is to increase the maximum possible break which currently stands at 147 – 15 reds followed by 15 blacks. Should any player make a maximum, the golden ball comes into play with a value of 20 points, giving rise to the possibility of a 167.

Where will the ball be on the table?

Those familiar with snooker will know colours are potted in the following order; yellow, green, brown, blue, pink and black. The first three colours are spaced out along the baulk line at the top of the table and the golden ball will rest in the centre of the baulk cushion or, as you watch on television, the cushion at the top of the screen. If a 147 is made, the ball becomes live but, as soon as such a break is no longer possible, the ball is removed until the start of the next frame.

What’s the prize and how likely is it to happen?

Once upon a time 147s were a rarity and the first ever was made by Steve Davis in 1982 but, as the playing field and number of tournaments have increased, so have the amount of maximums and the 200th was made last week by Joe O’Connor. Maximum breaks once paid £147,000 and the game’s star attraction, Ronnie O’Sullivan, has been outspoken about the decrease in prize money over the years and once had to be persuaded to pot the final black when he discovered there was no money on offer. However, this week, the first place to make a 167 will receive £395,000.

Which players are involved?

O’Sullivan, the world number one and the sport’s greatest of all time, heads a stellar field of the world’s top 10 players who will contest for the trophy alongside two wild cards, Omar Alajlani and Ali Alobaidli.

Mark Selby produced a vintage display to sweep past Ronnie O’Sullivan 6-0 and secure his place in the semi-finals of the Players Championship in Telford.

World number one O’Sullivan had looked pretty much untouchable this season, with four major ranking titles already.

However, it was Selby, himself a four-time world champion, who produced a high-quality display with half-century breaks or higher in five frames to end O’Sullivan’s 16-match unbeaten run.

There had been a controversial start to the match in the opening frame when referee Desislava Bozhilova failed to warn O’Sullivan after a second missed attempt when he could see one side of a red.

She swiftly realised her error, apologised to both players and promptly informed the world number one he would forfeit the frame if he did not hit a red with his next shot.

O’Sullivan’s response was to smash into the reds, opening up the table which allowed Selby to eventually clinch the frame with a break of 65.

Selby, who will play either China’s Zhang Anda or John Higgins in the semi-finals, soon built early momentum following a clearance of 91. After O’Sullivan did not make the most of a chance in the third, another break of 81 further extended his advantage.

It was turning into a vintage display from the Jester from Leicester, who produced another fine break of 105 to go into the mid-session interval in complete control at 4-0.

Following the resumption, O’Sullivan continued to make some wayward shots, going in off a red and into the top pocket as Selby went on to take the fifth frame with a 59 clearance.

The Rocket finally kicked into gear in the next frame with a break of 58, only to run out of position and then see an attempted safety shot back up the table edge the green to leave a red on.

Following couple of tense exchanges, Selby sunk a long red at pace into the bottom left corner and then dropped in a deft final red after O’Sullivan had left it just over the pocket before clearing the colours to take the frame 70-58, completing a memorable win.

During Thursday’s afternoon session at the International Centre, Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen came through a marathon four-hour contest to beat Gary Wilson 6-4.

Allen, celebrating his 38th birthday, moved into an early 2-0 lead after two half-century breaks and went into the interval 3-1 ahead with a run of 75.

Wilson, who won the BetVictor Welsh Open on Sunday, then mounted a recovery as he fought back to level at 3-3 on the back of a 76 break.

World number three Allen, though, dug in again to take frames seven and eight, before missing a match-ball chance in the next and then eventually getting the job done with a 69 break.

Allen, who had beaten former world champion Mark Williams in the first round, goes on to play Ali Carter for a place in Sunday’s final.

Ronnie O’Sullivan reeled off five frames in succession to beat Zhou Yuelong 6-2 and reach the quarter-finals of the Players Championship.

Competing for the first time since withdrawing from the Wales Open due to anxiety, O’Sullivan was far from his fluent best in the early stages but improved markedly after the interval in Telford.

The seven-time world champion produced a superb total clearance of 136 in the sixth frame, won the next after Zhou inexplicably missed a simple green and wrapped up the win with a run of 73.

O’Sullivan was in no mood to give any insight into his performance, however, telling ITV4: “I don’t assess my performances really, I make that a golden rule. Bit of match practice, take what I can from the tour and move on.

“I’m just trying to get away with playing as least as I can, I feel happier doing that.

“This is all icing on the cake for me, whatever I get off this tour. I’ve got my exhibitions, my ambassador work and that’s my main thing – I just fit in a few tournaments around that.”

Mark Allen earlier made three consecutive centuries, including a tournament record 146, on his way to an impressive 6-3 win over three-time world champion Mark Williams.

Allen followed his 146 in the opening frame with breaks of 112 and 102, restricting Williams to a solitary point in the process, and also made breaks of 94, 70 and 68 to ease into the quarter-finals.

“Any win against Mark is a good win, but to play like that and score like that, that’s what I needed because I haven’t been doing that much,” Allen told ITV4.

“I’m not going to go into it, but I am trying something a bit different this week so we’ll see if it works. It is a timing issue that I feel like I’ve had in recent months so the technical change I’ve made I’m hoping will correct that.

“I started the match as good as you could with three centuries and disappointed not to make four, but that’s the way you need to play.

“I lost a few (against Mark) early on when I first turned pro and I think that’s nine of the last 10 I’ve won now so maybe that’s in his head a little bit as well.”

Allen will play Gary Wilson in the quarter-finals after he came from 2-0 down to beat Hossein Vafaei 6-4, the Welsh Open winner sealing victory with a break of 95.

Ali Carter will take on Judd Trump after breaks of 116, 97, 66 and 69 helped secure a 6-2 victory over Tom Ford.

Gary Wilson reeled off a brilliant 147 against an outmatched John Higgins as he set up a Welsh Open final with Martin O’Donnell.

O’Donnell booked his first appearance in a ranking final when he held his nerve to see off Elliot Slessor 6-5 in Llandudno, but Wilson will head into Sunday’s showpiece on the crest of a wave after a 6-4 win took him past four-time world champion Higgins.

Wilson had been on the hunt for a maximum break in the first frame but had to settle for 104 as he missed the 14th red at the middle pocket.

He put that right in some style at the very next attempt, clearing the table with expert placement and clinical potting to bring up the fifth 147 of his own career and the 199th overall.

The Scottish Open champion received a huge ovation from the crowd at the Venue Cymru and proceeded to bank the next two frames for a 4-0 lead.

At that stage the 38-year-old looked to be cruising, but a break of 93 in the fifth finally gave the Scot a foothold.

Wilson soon re-established control to go 5-1 ahead but his golden touch deserted him as Higgins put together a run of three in a row to tease an unlikely comeback.

Higgins ran out steam in the 10th frame, with Wilson sealing a 97-4 win on the back of a 73 break.

O’Donnell had earlier survived a nervy finish of his own, going from 5-3 in front to a winner-takes-all decider.

Having previously seen off reigning world champion Luca Brecel in the quarter-final, O’Donnell dug deep to pull off a break of 126 and give himself a shot at a first title.

Judd Trump eased into the semi-finals of the German Masters with a 5-2 victory over John Higgins.

Scotland’s Higgins had taken an early 2-1 lead but Trump came roaring back in Berlin with four consecutive frames, including a run of three half-century breaks.

Trump will play Sam Craigie in the last four after he reached the semi-finals of a ranking event for the first time with a 5-1 defeat of Ali Carter.

The 30-year-old confidently dispatched the defending champion in Berlin.

Carter was noticeably below par and allowed his opponent to storm into a 4-0 lead before finally getting on the board in the fifth frame.

But it came too late to alter the outcome, as a break of 89 saw Craigie progress to the last four.

The other semi-final will see Kyren Wilson take on Si Jiahui after both came through their respective last-eight meetings.

Wilson was a 5-0 winner against Fan Zhengyi whilst Jiahui won through 5-2 against Ryan Day.

The final will take place on Sunday.

Ronnie O’Sullivan limped through his World Open qualifier against Alfie Burden in Barnsley to book his place in the final stages of the tournament.

O’Sullivan, who has been given special permission by World Snooker to wear trainers due to a foot injury, kicked them off midway through the fourth frame while Burden was on a break of 61.

The world number one, who added the World Grand Prix title to his recent Masters win on Sunday, then slightly delayed the start of the fifth frame whilst he restored his footwear.

A break of 104 from Burden threatened an upset as he pulled back to 3-3, but breaks of 83 and 58 gave O’Sullivan a 5-3 lead and a place in the tournament proper in China later this year.

Ronnie O’Sullivan put his World Grand Prix success down to buying an air fryer and smoothie maker and not eating junk food.

O’Sullivan stormed back from 4-0 down in Leicester on Sunday to beat Judd Trump 10-7 and win his second title in the space of a week following his Masters success.

“Start of the week I was feeling a bit rough and then I bought myself an air fryer and a smoothie maker,” O’Sullivan said on ITV.

“I don’t like eating junk food. It sorts of puts me in a funny place.

“I started feeling better as the week went on. I played some of my best snooker against Ding (Junhui, in his 6-1 semi-final win) and that gave me some confidence because I knew I’d have to play well to do something against Judd.”

The Rocket, just as he had done at the Masters, had to call on his powers of recovery after Trump established early command.

He said: “Judd blasted off the table 4-0 and I was thinking ‘this could be an early night, like a 10-1 job’.

“I managed to nick a few frames, 5-3 gave me a bit of optimism, and I thought I’d just come out and try, enjoy the battle and see what happens.

“You have to battle against Judd because he’s a warrior and the favourite for the World Championship for sure.”

World number one O’Sullivan reeled off six straight frame from 7-4 down to claim his 41st ranking title and win £100,000.

“I enjoyed that. I really did,” said O’Sullivan.

“I know I’m 48, but when I play snooker I can knock 20 years off and I feel quite vibrant.

“As long as I’m feeling young at the table I don’t feel age is an issue.

“I think experience is helping me. I’ve won a lot of tournaments, been around a while and learned a lot about the game.

“I think I’m a better all-round player than I’ve ever been.”

Ronnie O’Sullivan clawed his way back into contention after a torrid opening session of the World Grand Prix final against Judd Trump in Leicester.

The world number one had swept into the final on the back of a dazzling semi-final win over Ding Junhui, but his touch looked to have deserted him as he slumped to a 4-0 deficit by the mid-session interval.

But O’Sullivan, looking to build on his recent UK Championship and Masters titles, recovered to narrow the gap to two frames at 5-3 ahead of Sunday evening’s resumption in their best-of-19 clash.

Despite questioning his future in the sport during much of his run to the final, O’Sullivan conceded he had barely played better than in his last-four win over Ding, when he rifled four centuries to triumph 6-1.

But it was Trump who seized the initiative on Sunday with a break of 74 giving him the first frame, before O’Sullivan uncharacteristically spurned a chance to steal the second as he fell two behind.

O’Sullivan once again failed to punish his opponent for a pair of misses in the third frame, going in-off during an attempted safety which enabled Trump to chisel out the points required to extend his lead.

A nightmare mini-session was complete as Trump made 69 to move further in front, but O’Sullivan finally stirred upon the resumption to take the fifth frame in two visits.

Trump failed to punish O’Sullivan for more misses in frame six, but he got the better of frame seven in what was proving an increasingly scrappy encounter to restore his three-frame lead.

Trump again spurned a fine chance to wrap up the afternoon session four frames in front when he missed a black on a break of 33, and O’Sullivan finally showed a glimpse of his earlier form with an excellent response of 63, enough to leave it with all to play for on Sunday evening.

Ronnie O’Sullivan coasted into the semi-finals of the World Grand Prix in Leicester with a 5-1 win over Gary Wilson.

Following a controversial eighth Masters triumph over Ali Carter, O’Sullivan has continued to questioned his snooker future, admitting he no longer gets enjoyment from the way he is playing.

However, the 48-year-old, set to take a break of a couple of months following the end of the tournament, showed no lack of sharpness as he recovered from losing the opening frame to move 3-1 ahead with a clearance of 129 either side of two half-centuries.

Wilson, the reigning Northern Ireland Open champion, fell further behind after his break finished on 52, allowing O’Sullivan back to the table to secure the snooker needed before going on to clear the colours.

O’Sullivan swiftly completed a comfortable win with another break of 58 in the sixth frame.

Former world champion Shaun Murphy has backed the announcement of Saudi Arabia’s first ever invitational snooker event and the introduction of a new golden ball which could increase the maximum break to 167.

The inaugural Riyadh Season World Masters of Snooker will take place in March with seven-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan set to feature in the 10-player field alongside 2019 world champion Judd Trump and current holder Luca Brecel.

The tournament will see the introduction of a 23rd golden ball, known as the Riyadh Season ball, which will be worth 20 points, but can only be potted once a maximum break of 147 has been completed.

Murphy urged traditionalists to give the novel idea a chance, likening it to the single-frame Snooker Shoot-Out, which was met with plenty of resistance when it was introduced, but has evolved into a permanent fixture on the world ranking calendar since 2017.

Murphy, who as the current world number six is set to feature in the tournament, told the PA news agency: “It was heresy when the Shoot-Out was brought in as a ranking event – people were nearly out with torches on the streets – but I haven’t met a single person who has been to the Shoot-Out and not enjoyed it.

“You should never criticise something unless you’ve tried it. It’s just something different and it’s not the first time the sport has tried new ideas.

“I imagine they (World Snooker Tour) had to make a few concessions to get the event over the line, and the new promoters in Saudi will want their event to stand out and be different. At the end of the day you’d rather have the event than not.”

Precise details of the format relating to the golden ball are yet to be revealed, but the PA news agency understands that WST is not considering the introduction of the ball for any other tournaments.

The Saudi tournament, due to be held in Riyadh from March 4-6 and featuring the top eight players in the world and a prize pool of one million US dollars, will not offer the highest break in the sport’s history.

A short-lived experiment in 1959 saw the introduction of a ‘Snooker Plus’ tournament, which included two additional colours, an orange ball worth eight points and a purple worth 10, which raised the theoretically available maximum to 210.

The announcement of the Saudi event, hailed as a “huge breakthrough” by WST chairman Steve Dawson, was met with some resistance from lower-ranked players, with 2023 Shoot-Out semi-finalist Steven Hallworth tweeting: “Was starting to lose sleep with worry that the top 8 players might run out of events and cash soon, thank God for this”.

Amnesty International criticised snooker’s addition to the growing list of sports heading to the kingdom, calling on those involved to seize the opportunity to speak out about human rights abuses.

Peter Frankental, Amnesty International UK’s Economic Affairs director, said: “It was just a matter of time before Saudi Arabia’s huge sportswashing machine sucked in snooker along with almost every other major world sport.

“If the likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump play in Riyadh, they shouldn’t hesitate to speak out about human rights.”

For all that Murphy accepts the relevance of continued expressions of concern, the 41-year-old insists neither those prospective invitees, nor the sport itself, should be in any quandary about being part of the historic deal.

“Obviously there is a question over human rights as there should be, but if we (WST) only traded with countries with perfect human rights records, it would be a very, very small pool to pick from,” added Murphy.

“We wouldn’t be trading with the UK either. We haven’t covered ourselves in glory over hundreds of years, going around invading other countries, so people in glass houses need to be careful where they throw their stones.”

The World Snooker Tour has announced Saudi Arabia will host its first ever invitational snooker event with the introduction of a new golden ball which could increase the maximum break to 167.

The inaugural Riyadh Season World Masters of Snooker will take place in March and seven-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan is set to feature in the 10-player field alongside 2019 world champion Judd Trump and current holder Luca Brecel.

The tournament will see the introduction of a 23rd golden ball, known as the Riyadh Season ball, which will be worth 20 points, however, this can only be potted once a maximum break of 147 has been completed.

The three-day event will take place at Boulevard Arena in Boulevard City, Riyadh, from March 4-6.

Snooker will join a host of other sports to take a place in Saudi Arabia in recent years after a deal was confirmed between CEO of General Entertainment Authority Faisal Bafarat and the chairman of World Snooker Tour Steve Dawson, alongside Saudi advisor Turki Alalshikh and sports promoters Eddie Hearn and Barry Hearn.

Dawson said: “It is a great privilege for the World Snooker Tour to work in partnership with HE Advisor Turki Alalshikh to stage an event in Saudi Arabia for the first time.

“This is a huge breakthrough for snooker into a new territory, and we see this as the beginning of a new adventure for our sport in the region.

“We are looking forward to being a part of Riyadh Season on this fantastic new event featuring the world’s best players.

“We will be honoured to bring our sport to the amazing city of Riyadh, and for the local fans this will be their first chance to see some of snooker’s all-time greats.”

Eddie Hearn confirmed the event will feature the top eight players in the world including two wildcards and a prize pool of one million US dollars.

Trump believes snooker heading to Saudi Arabia is “amazing” for the sport.

He told World Snooker Tour on X: “It’s amazing for snooker to be going to different places.

“It’s amazing to be going back to China and feel appreciated again.

“I think we are seeing snooker in new territories now with exhibitions popping up in different places and it’s amazing that Saudi Arabia want to get involved.”

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