Once, twice, three times a Master – Mark Selby has tonight defeated Neil Robertson 10-6 to win the Masters title for the third time in his career. Taking the £175,000 first prize, the world number one joins Steve Davis, Cliff Thorburn and the late Paul Hunter as a three-time Masters champion and continues his impressive run of late…
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Coming into the evening session with a two-frame lead at 5-3, it was advantage Selby, but having led 3-0 and 5-1 earlier in the day, Mark could have been forgiven for been slightly disappointed that he had not been able to open up a bigger gap after eight frames.
Any such disappointment was not evident as the second session got underway however, as Mark came out looking as sharp as he had at any point in the tournament, taking the opening frame with a break of 67, before dominating the next two to move five clear at 8-3.
It was never going to be a clear run to the finish line however and back came Neil Robertson, breaks of 74 and 83 either side of the mid-session interval seeing him close to 8-5, before he then took a thrilling 14th frame on the pink to close to 8-6 and get himself right back into the match.
Mark though was not to be rattled and as the next frame developed into a real scrap, there only looked like being one winner and as Selby extended his lead to 9-6, the writing was very much on the wall.
Following his recent victory at the UK Championship, not to mention his European Tour win in Munich, Mark has very much established himself now as snooker’s man to beat, notwithstanding the high standard in the game and his fellow competitors, such as Judd Trump and indeed Neil Robertson.
He might not be the most popular player in the world, certainly judging by some of the tweets that I have seen over the past few days, but with the UK Championship and Masters trophies currently in his possession, he won’t care one bit about that. Prior to his recent run of success, people had questioned whether he was a worthy world number one, but though he has yet to add the world title to his CV, who can really argue with his top ranking at the moment?
As for Neil Robertson, it was not his best performance today, but overall it has been an excellent defence to the Masters title that he won twelve months ago and as ever, he has provided us with some memorable moments on the baize over the past eight days. All in all, he probably played the best out of anyone over the course of the week, but it was not to be in the final.
Overall, an excellent tournament, full of stories, comebacks, deciders and drama, though I noted with interest a discussion on Twitter yesterday as to the fact that few players were at the top of their game this week, some citing burn-out as a possible factor. In truth I thought that the standard was fairly good, certainly the drama was, and I would be surprised if there was any element of burn-out, given the recent Christmas break and the relative lack of snooker in the run-up to this tournament.
Next stop – Crondon Park for the resumption of the Championship League tomorrow, before next week sees the return of the Shoot Out, now with a further reduced shot clock which promises to be different, if nothing else!