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Jan 19 2014

Selby v O’Sullivan: Live Final Blog

SelbyROSSo after a week of drama, tension and quality on the baize at the Alexandra Palace, today will see a third Masters final contested between defending champion Mark Selby and reigning world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, with the score currently standing at 1-1 between the two.

Click below then to read my frame by frame blog as the action progresses (most recent on top), and feel free to leave your comments at the bottom of the article, with that facility now restored to the blog…

21:11 – It’s all over, Ronnie O’Sullivan has defeated Mark Selby 10-4 to win the Masters for a fifth time. As Mark observed post-match, the damage was very much done in the opening session and it was always going to be a tough job for Mark to come back from 7-1 down.

More follows in a separate article…

20:46 – The result might appear inevitable, but Mark Selby hasn’t given up and now reduces the arrears to 9-4 following another good frame from him. I tend to agree with the commentators in that while it will most likely prove too late, he has settled down in the match somewhat now and looks like the player I had expected to see from the off this afternoon.

20:34 – Back underway after the break and that trip down memory lane. So many classic moments at the Masters, one that stands out for me is that red by John Higgins in the 2006 final, every time I see it, I still don’t think that it is going to drop!

Hendry and Taylor in the commentary box for the final frame(s?), and unfortunately some idiots in the crowd causing disruption early on in this frame. To his credit, Mark Selby is laughing it off, while referee Paul Collier, who has been almost anonymous today, exactly as a good referee should be, has the offender ejected from the arena.

20:17 – Selby had his chance to close to 8-4, but a missed pink effectively curtailed that, as Ronnie moves 9-3 clear at the mid-session interval and one frame away from the title.

We are now being treated to a nice montage of the Masters tournaments down the years, some special memories here…

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19:50 – Probably Mark Selby’s best frame of the match there, as he capitalises on a mistake from Ronnie to close to 3-8. Can he come back? We will have a mid-session interval at least and if he can take the next…we shall see…

19:35 – Belated drama in frame 10 as it is Selby who takes it on the black to stay in the match at 8-2. Both had chances and it looked as though Ronnie would extend his lead yet further, before an inexplicable miss on the brown gave Selby a late lifeline. Mark was then able to clear to the black, only to miss it and then see Ronnie do likewise, leaving it over the corner pocket for a grateful Selby. Too little too late, one would suspect, but who knows…

19:17 – In what feels like the blink of an eye, O’Sullivan has made it 8-1 with a one visit break of 90. Had a chance of making his first ton of the match, but missed a tricky last red along the cushion.

19:10 – Being asked on Twitter what Ronnie O’Sullivan’s walk-on music is called. Apparently the title of the Chinese song is ‘林子祥 – 男儿当自强’ – sadly my mandarin isn’t up to much either!

18:51 – Arena packed now ahead of the resumption of today’s final, as Mark Selby looks to recover a 7-1 deficit against Ronnie O’Sullivan? Can he do it?

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16:18 – And Ronnie has taken the last of the session to leave himself needing just three more this evening to claim the Masters title for a fifth time. Selby had his chances, particularly in the fourth frame and with a re-spot in the seventh, but in truth looked to be edgy from the start and this was seized upon brilliantly by a ruthless O’Sullivan.

Can Selby respond when the action resumes at 7pm? Highly unlikely I fear for those in his corner, but you never know…

15:59 – But it’s O’Sullivan who takes it to lead 6-1, following a combination of a loose safety from Selby on the last red, together with a re-spotted black, potted to the right-centre. Of particular note was the reaction from O’Sullivan as he stayed down on the shot having potted the black, which demonstrated just how significant the frame could be in the context of the match.

A must-win frame for Selby coming up now, the last of the session…

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15:45 – A strange match this insofar as since the start of the third frame, the exchanges have more or less been as I would have expected beforehand, but by then O’Sullivan had already given himself a 3-0 headstart, following an excellent start to the match.

With pink and black tied up early in frame seven, already this has the look of a long, more drawn out affair, which you would expect to favour Selby…

15:32 – With his back against the wall, a great response from Selby, in particular with a gutsy pot on the yellow on his way to snatching the sixth frame to avoid a whitewash in this match. While it will be easier said than done, if he can somehow add the next two frames to come out of this session just two frames behind at 5-3, then we would still have a real final session in store this evening…

15:18 – Hard to disagree with that I feel, as Selby is asked for an autograph whilst sat in his chair waiting for O’Sullivan to come back into the arena. The last thing that he needs!

TWEET: Timo Partanen @ProSnookerBlog Selby has to win the last three afternoon frames to have a chance

15:15 – O’Sullivan guarantees a lead heading into the second session, taking advantage from a missed red from Selby to take the frame and move halfway towards a whitewash at 5-0. While I would be shocked to see a 10-0 scoreline here, already Selby’s hopes of victory look to be slim, notwithstanding his mental strength when behind in matches.

15:09 – Back underway after the mid-session interval, the match stats shown below at 4-0 rather sum up the story of the match so far and it will be important now for Selby to find a response if he is to give himself hope going into this evening’s session. With four more frames to go, if he were to be trailing 5-3 at the end of this session, I would imagine that he would be delighted…

matchstats14:42 - Ronnie makes it 4-0 at the mid-session interval, taking a longer frame in which Selby had chances, but was unable to make the most of them. As Ken Doherty said in the studio, had Selby managed to get to the interval just 3-1 behind, given how O’Sullivan played, Mark would probably have been quite happy, but as it stands he now has a mountain to climb already if he is to take his fourth Masters title this evening.

On the plus side, the fourth frame was one more suited to Selby’s style and he did win one tactical exchange in particular to earn himself an opportunity, but the fact that he could not take it will be all the more worrying for him.

Can Selby turn this around?

studio14:31 – Patsy Fagan getting his customary mention in commentary there. Jimmy White, Jason Francis of Snooker Legends and Chris Lovell among the other notable faces spotted in the audience today…

14:29 – This frame has been more like it from Selby’s point of view, as he forces a mistake from O’Sullivan during a safety exchange to earn a chance. A distraction from the crowd however was followed by a miss on an easy red from Selby, which could prove costly if he goes on to lose the frame…

14:15 – 269 points scored by Ronnie, just 14 by Selby, O’Sullivan having also had 84% of the table time, demonstrating how dominant he has been so far…

14:11 – Selby hasn’t settled into this match at all yet, but with Ronnie in imperious form, he has hardly been given chance to, a break of 96 from O’Sullivan putting him 3-0 up in little over half an hour here. Of course Selby is known as the king of the comebacks, but with O’Sullivan looking this good, can he do so again here today?

One more frame to come before the interval, one that Selby could really do with winning…

ROSSelby14:00 – Make that 2-0, O’Sullivan smashing in a fantastic long red (see above), eventually going on to make a break of 70 to double his lead. Selby came back to the table for a bit of practice time, but with just 51 points remaining, never had thoughts of winning the frame.

A long way to go in this match of course, but with O’Sullivan in this mood, Selby needs to make his mark on this match sooner rather than later…

13:48 – An edgy start from Selby, who misses three long reds, none of which coming close to the pocket, but no such trouble for O’Sullivan, who wins the frame in one visit with a break of 97. A real statement of intent from the reigning world champion, as he looks to claim his fifth Masters title from ten finals today.

13:40 – We are now underway, both players sporting long ties, as of course all the players have this week during the afternoon sessions at the Masters. Early signs of nerves from Selby as he has missed his first three attempts at long pots, first scoring chance falls to Ronnie…

13:36 – Jimmy White among the faces in the arena, no doubt supporting Ronnie, his good friend. Here come the players…

13:34 – Just moments away from the start of the final now, Stephen Hendry and Ken Doherty chatting with Hazel Irvine in the arena. Interesting observation from Hendry as to why Selby gets under O’Sullivan’s skin, noting that from a snooker sense, Ronnie is a bully and bullies don’t like people who stand up to them.

Mastersarena13:12 – Good afternoon everybody, there is presently around half an hour to go until the start of this year’s final and what a match it promises to be. With a clash of both playing styles and personalities, which always adds an extra element of intrigue to any final, it will be interesting to see how both approach the match and whether the identity of their opponent changes their plan in any way.

On Ronnie’s side, it goes without saying that if he plays as well as he did against Ricky Walden a couple of days ago, then he will win, it is as simple as that. The fact though that it is Mark Selby who will be sitting in the other chair, may add an extra layer of pressure for O’Sullivan, in that he is someone who has previous experience of having defeated him on the big stage.

Indeed, in Selby’s favour is the fact that for me, unlike Ronnie’s previous opponents this week, Mark has experience, both at the Crucible Theatre and the Masters in years gone by and is one of the few players in the world that truly believes that they can beat him.

That is not to say that he will again today and O’Sullivan will begin the match as favourite, but is no certainty and it will therefore be very interesting to see how the match begins.

What do you think the outcome will be? Please tell me below in the comments section…

  • ANON

    Great to see Ronnie in such fine form. However for me the most poignant moment of the BBC coverage was the highlights of the 1998 final – the Masters was on a totally different level then. Have to say that I don’t like Ally Pally, its not that easy to get to get to (and I’m not just on about the schlep up the hill) facilities aren’t all that, it can barely fit 1500 people (compared to 3,000 at the old conference centre) and the fact that they are using the hall and the seats that Bazza hired for the darts a couple of weeks ago just seems a bit tacky.

    Moreover the viewing figures (evening session of the final was 2.15m according to the overnights, and barely half that even for the Ronnie’s semi-final) and the last minute sponsorship deal with a Filipino bookie just isn’t befitting of what is supposedly the sport’s second biggest tournament.

    IMHO Ally Pally is only suitable for a normal ranking tournament (in fact that is one thing it would be perfect for as there would be plenty of room for all 128 players), if the Masters is to stay an invitational it needs to move somewhere that creates a proper sense of theatre and occasion.

  • Matt

    Interesting one, I’ve not been to the venue so difficult to comment, seems to have been quite popular generally.

    The old conference centre looked like something else though!