Four-time champion Mark Selby is on the brink of crashing out of the World Championship at the first hurdle after losing the first session of his first round match 7-3 to debutant Joe O’Connor.

Selby, who questioned his future in the sport after losing to Gary Wilson in the Tour Championship earlier this month, was second best against his Leicester rival, who reeled off five frames in a row to leave himself in a commanding position ahead of Monday’s resumption.

The 40-year-old Selby has endured a dismal season by his standards, reaching one ranking tournament final and two semi-finals, but has traditionally reserved his best form of the season for the Crucible.

Despite sharing the opening two frames, Selby looked distinctly out of sorts and two centuries in three frames sent O’Connor three frames clear, before two further half-centuries sealed a sensational debut performance from the 28-year-old.

O’Connor, who has previously tried and failed seven times to reach the Crucible, is the only debutant in this year’s field, and requires just one more century on Monday to equal the record for a first-time performer at the venue.

Eleventh seed Zhang Anda followed defending champion Luca Brecel out of the tournament as he was hammered 10-4 by last year’s surprise quarter-finalist Jak Jones.

Resuming 5-2 in front after their abridged opening session on Saturday, Jones chiselled his way over the line with a top break of 60, while Zhang’s 95 in the 13th frame proved much too little, too late.

Jones, who beat Neil Robertson last year en route to the last eight, will face either fellow Welshman Mark Williams or last year’s surprise semi-finalist Si Jiahui in round two.

Ronnie O’Sullivan admitted he was “trying really hard to not get down on himself” after reaching the final of the Tour Championship in thrilling fashion with a 10-7 victory against Gary Wilson.

World number 13 Wilson knocked out Mark Selby and Zhang Anda to reach the final four and he made a brilliant recovery in the first session, coming from 4-2 down to level it at 4-4.

An end-to-end tussle saw the score swing back and forth in the evening session, but O’Sullivan eventually pulled ahead, sealing victory with a century break and he admitted post-match that he was trying to “change his mindset” while playing.

“I’m just trying really hard to not get down on myself, it’s hard but I’m trying to sort of change my mindset,” he told ITV4.

“It’s not easy, maybe two weeks ago I’d have mentally thrown the towel in just because I wasn’t flowing but I just thought, ‘just keep going, keep going’ and just focus on some of the positives that might be round the corner.

O’Sullivan has been in conversations with psychiatrist Steve Peters and hopes to see his game “flow again”.

“(I’ve spoken with him) every day, three times a day, sometimes four times,” he said. “I’ve just got to commit to it now for a good year to try and get myself out of this sort of hole I’ve got myself in mentally with the obsession of the game, tinkering.

“I know I’m never going to stop tinkering, but I have to somehow get sort of my head strong enough to be able to deal with it and not go too deep into that horrible murky world that it is.

“Every sportsman – maybe golfers, tennis players, snooker players – I suppose we all do it, but I went so deep into that it’s like detoxing myself from it.

“It’s not going to happen straight away, so if I want to get out of it I’ve got to put a lot of hard work in.

“It kind of felt like I’ve had the yips in a way – mentally, physically – it feels like you get scared to even want to go and play.

“That’s not a nice place to be, so I’ve got nothing left to do other than to try and get myself mentally out of it and hopefully my game will start to flow again, maybe.”

Wilson had the advantage in the opening frames, posting 73 and 62 before O’Sullivan began to take a grip on the match.

He hit 102 in the third frame and the momentum was firmly with him as he took the following three frames – hitting 110 in the fifth – to take the lead.

However, Wilson clawed his way back into the game with 83 and 84 to level going into the evening session.

O’Sullivan experienced a chalk hit in the first frame of the evening session, allowing Wilson to swoop back in and take the frame, but O’Sullivan quickly levelled in the following frame and took the next two to lead 7-5.

An end-to-end tussle saw Wilson charge straight out of the blocks after the interval in spectacular style, taking back-to-back frames with a huge 135 followed by 96 in just 24 minutes.

However, O’Sullivan made another comeback, scoring 77 and 98 before securing his spot in the final in style with a 129 clearance.

He will meet either Mark Williams or Mark Allen in Sunday’s final, with their semi-final taking place on Saturday.

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.”

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.

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.

Ali Carter will not have a grudge match with Ronnie O’Sullivan at the World Grand Prix this week after he exited to Mark Selby.

O’Sullivan and Carter have been embroiled in an ugly war of words following the former’s victory in the Masters final on Sunday, with both players saying the other had issues with their mental health.

They are both playing in Leicester this week and were on course to meet in another final, but Carter lost a final-frame decider to Selby, going down 4-3 in the last 16.

Carter looked to have the momentum going into the decider as he levelled at 3-3 with a break of 103.

But Selby delivered when it mattered, advancing to the quarter-finals in his hometown with a well-made 77.

O’Sullivan is next in action on Thursday against Zhou Yuelong.

Selby will play Judd Trump in the last eight after Trump whitewashed Lyu Haotian 4-0.

Selby, who has endured some mixed results told ITV: “I feel OK on the table, I am just so inconsistent from one match to the next which is frustrating. Physically I feel OK on the shot, which is scary because if you’re OK physically results usually follow, but I am in and out.

“I look forward to it, Judd is one of the all time greats himself, if you don’t play your best you are going home.”

Shaun Murphy was sent packing by Cao Yupeng in a 4-0 rout while Mark Williams beat Hossein Vafaei 4-1.

Defending champion Mark Allen earlier fired three century breaks in his 4-2 win over Jack Lisowski.

Ding Junhui had breaks of 70 and 81 as he came from behind to edge a 4-3 win over Ricky Walden, while Noppon Saengkham compiled four breaks over 80, including a 107 in frame four, as he overcame Xiao Guodong 4-1.

Mark Allen registered the second 147 of this year’s Masters as he edged past Mark Selby 6-5 and into the semi-finals.

After losing the first two frames, Allen got off the mark by producing another maximum to add to Ding Junhui’s in the opening round at Alexandra Palace, the third of the Northern Irishman’s career.

Selby subsequently moved 4-1 ahead before Allen claimed four frames in a row, including a break of 103, to take the lead.

After Selby brought things level again, Allen took the final frame to book a semi-final clash with Ali Carter.

Speaking after his match, Allen said: “I don’t know where that maximum came from because it was a really poor performance tonight.

“You never know how a match can change. I was applying myself really well, I just couldn’t find any rhythm and, as the match went on, I grew into it.

“Any win against Mark is a good win, so I’ll take that into tomorrow, but I’ll need to play better.”

Carter earlier knocked out defending champion Judd Trump in another contest that went down to the wire.

Carter was losing 5-4 and facing an exit in the 10th frame only for his opponent to over-cut the matchball red, allowing the 44-year-old to seize his chance and produce a 43 clearance to take it to a decider.

Boosted by that momentum, a break of 64 then saw Carter, who had been 4-2 up, only for Trump to fight back with a break of 129 on his way to winning three frames in succession, through to only his second Masters semi in 13 attempts.

“For all the money, I looked like going 5-3 in front and lost my composure for a couple of frames,” Carter said in his post-match interview.

“I felt like I worked really hard but was delighted to make an unbelievable clearance to force a decider.

“Then how I’ve held myself together there, I don’t know – that’s a feather in my cap.”

The other semi-final sees Ronnie O’Sullivan face Shaun Murphy.

Three-time winner Mark Selby cruised through to the last eight of the Masters with a 6-1 victory over Robert Milkins at Alexandra Palace.

World number five Selby, who won the tournament in 2008, 2010 and 2013, raced into a 4-0 lead and although Milkins briefly stemmed the tide by taking the fifth frame, the result was never in doubt.

Selby produced a 119-break in the second frame of the evening match to assume control and compiled four more frame-winning half-century breaks to seal a convincing win.

The four-time world champion made scores of 70 and 74 in the final two frames to stay on course for a sixth appearance in the Masters final.

Mark Allen had earlier conjured a break of 86 in the final-frame decider to oust John Higgins and advance to the quarter-finals.

A week after 16-year-old Luke Littler thrilled during the World Darts Championship it was two old-timers that were starring at Ally Pally.

Higgins, a two-time champion, looked to be in control as back-to-back 80-plus breaks put him 3-1 up.

But world number three Allen won the next two scrappy frames, thanks to some wayward potting by Higgins to draw level.

The Northern Irishman had to wait until frame seven to make his first half-century break as he took the lead for the first time and then a sumptuous 123 clearance – the best of the match – put him one frame away.

Higgins had been looking beaten for the previous 30 minutes but summoned his renowned fighting spirit to reduce the deficit after winning the tactical battle and then sent it to a decider with a 61 break.

But hopes of a comeback were put to bed as Allen produced his decisive break to set up a last-eight tie with Selby.

He said: “It wasn’t a phenomenal contest, we were both a bit edgy, but any win against John is a good win so I will take it.

“Strangely I didn’t feel too bad in the last frame because 5-3 to 5-5 I didn’t feel like I’d done much wrong.

“I missed two really tricky shots, so I was looking forward to getting a chance and when John missed that long red I was fearing the worst but I got another chance and I made the most of it.”

Luca Brecel rendered Mark Selby’s maximum a distant memory as he fired four centuries to fashion a 15-10 lead after a high-quality penultimate session of their World Snooker Championship final at the Crucible.

Looking utterly undaunted by the biggest occasion of his career, the 28-year-old Belgian moved just three frames away from becoming the first winner of the title from mainland Europe, and the first overseas winner since Neil Robertson in 2010.

Selby had entered the session on a high after Sunday evening’s stunning 147 but it was Brecel who rose to the occasion, blasting three of those hundred breaks in the first four frames as he turned his 9-8 overnight lead into a 13-8 advantage.

The four-time champion looked distinctly out of sorts, cueing up many of Brecel’s chances by leaving reds dangling desperately over corner pockets, but no-one would have expected anything less than one of his trademark stirring fightbacks.

Just as he dredged his way back to win previous finals over Ronnie O’Sullivan and John Higgins, Selby launched his assault straight after the interval, despite some sterling resistance from Brecel who reclaimed the majority of a 68-point deficit.

Selby also took what felt like a pivotal 23rd frame, as he clawed back from 41 points behind and got the better of a lengthy safety battle on the last red to reduce the deficit once again to 13-10.

But if there ever was a sign that Brecel was unfazed it came in the next frame when the Belgian built on a brilliant opening red to serve up his fourth century of the session, a nerveless 119, to restore his four-frame advantage.

For all his centuries, it was arguably Brecel’s brilliant clearance to pink in the final frame of the session that was most impressive, as he wiped out Selby’s 40-point lead to move three frames away from claiming his maiden crown.

Mark Selby made the first maximum break in a World Snooker Championship final as he reeled off the final three frames of an exhilarating opening day to trail Belgium’s Luca Brecel 9-8 overnight at the Crucible.

Forty years after Cliff Thorburn compiled the first 147 in the tournament, four-time champion Selby polished off the 15th to add his name to the list of history-makers at the famous venue.

Selby’s maximum earned him a share of the £40,000 tournament highest break prize with Kyren Wilson, who also made a 147 in his first-round win over Ryan Day.

His achievement capped an absorbing first two sessions in which Brecel threatened to pot his way into a significant lead only for the 39-year-old to show all of his renowned tenacity to drag himself back into contention ahead of Monday’s conclusion.

Twice previously in finals, against Ronnie O’Sullivan and John Higgins, Selby has trailed heavily only to roar back and clinch victory and he is now a heavy favourite to finish the job against Brecel, who before this year had not won a match in five visits to the Crucible.

Having carved a reputation as a comeback king after his wins over O’Sullivan and Si Jiahui, the Belgian found himself in uncharted territory as a front-runner after blazing a trail with some epic long pots to take the first session 6-2.

Breaks of 77 and 90 helped him punish Selby, who uncharacteristically missed an easy brown and two blacks off their spots and was seemingly suffering after his early-hours semi-final win over Mark Allen the previous night.

In a thrilling start to the evening session, Selby summoned a 134 total clearance only for Brecel to respond with a high-octane 99, including a series of trick-shots on the colours, to immediately restore his four-frame advantage.

But Brecel’s potting prowess was matched by a growing tendency to miss easy balls, and after potting a series of impressive long shots in the next he missed a comparatively easy red, allowing Selby to post a break of 96 to narrow the deficit to 7-4.

Another missed opportunity enabled Selby to recover Brecel’s 42-point head-start and win frame 12, but the Belgian responded well with breaks of 72 and 67 after the mid-session interval to pull 9-5 in front.

It was classic Selby territory, however, and he punished a careless Brecel split with a break of 61 before summoning his historic maximum, completed with the minimum of fuss after plucking the final problematic red away from the side cushion.

Referee Brendan Moore, officiating in his third and last Crucible final before retirement, was the first to congratulate Selby, who was also embraced warmly by a smiling Brecel.

The Belgian looked set to extend his overnight advantage when he went 48 points clear in the final frame of the evening but Selby typically managed to refocus and take the frame to leave a thrilling 2023 final on a knife-edge.

Four-time champion Mark Selby came through a late-night battle with Mark Allen to set up a World Snooker Championship final with Crucible history maker Luca Brecel.

The 39-year-old was embroiled in a tense thriller with the Northern Irishman, eventually getting over the line with a 17-15 victory at 12.48am on Sunday morning – just 12 hours before the final is due to start.

Selby, who last won the tournament in 2021, probably thought he would have been done and dusted much earlier as five successive frames at the start of Saturday’s evening session put him one away from victory shortly before 10pm.

Yet, he had to wait the best part of three hours before potting the final ball as Allen hit back with five successive frames of his own and threatened to take it even deeper into the night.

Selby said: “I was just happy to get over the line, I felt I played well from 11-10 to 16-10 and then missed a couple of chances.

“At 16-15 he probably goes favourite because he had the momentum. It means everything to be back, I want to try and win it now I’m in the final.

“I don’t feel too bad right now, but I haven’t been sleeping too well while I’ve been here. If I don’t sleep well tonight there is something wrong.

“Luca will be fresh, he has had a night off, but if it means I only get 10 hours and playing in the World Championship final, I’d rather have that than have 24 hours off and be driving home.”

While Selby will have a quick turnaround before Sunday’s final, Brecel will have been tucked up and relaxed after he created history earlier in the day in his semi-final win over Si Jiahui.

The Belgian, who conquered Ronnie O’Sullivan in the quarter-final, produced the largest comeback at the famous Sheffield venue, winning 11 frames on the spin to turn a 14-5 deficit into a 17-14 victory.

He became the first player in Crucible history to overturn a nine-frame deficit and booked his first World Championship final, having never previously got past the first round.

Brecel said of his miraculous recovery against the 20-year-old Chinese debutant: “At 14-12, 14-13 I knew I had a chance, but I think 14-14 I was really believing it because I could see he was struggling and I was playing great stuff.

“But I knew I could have lost as well. To win is absolutely unbelievable, it is the biggest game of my life. I was in disbelief, I was shaking.

“The whole game I was expecting to lose, even with a session to spare, so to even have a chance to win was the craziest feeling ever in my body and I can’t believe I did it.

“I have never won a game here and now I am in the final, it is some story. It is going to take a while to sink in.”

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