Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 31 August 2014

Mark Selby surges to first UK crown as Shaun Murphy stalls

John Higgins finally fought off the brave challenge of Mark Selby to claim his second World Championship at the Crucible.

Mark Selby clinched his first UK Championship title last night after a dominant display in the evening session took him to a 10-6 victory over Shaun Murphy in the final.

The pair resumed locked at 4-4 after the opening afternoon session, but it was Selby who took advantage in the concluding session as breaks of 58, 46 and 98 helped him edge ahead.



Murphy, a UK winner in 2008, struggled to produce his best form as he tried to end a four-year wait for a major ranking title. But the Manchester-based professional was left needing to win four of the next five frames for victory and his second UK crown and it proved beyond him, Selby, the world No 1, taking the next two frames to cruise home.



Meanwhile, Steve Davis, the six-time world champion, is convinced he and seven-time Crucible winner Stephen Hendry would have struggled to dominate in the current era.



Davis, still playing aged 55, is second on the all-time winner's list with an impressive 28 ranking titles. Perthshire potter Hendry still tops the pile with a staggering 36 ranking crowns, a feat which Davis is sure will never be bettered.



But even Davis admits he and Hendry would have struggled to dominate against the likes of Murphy and Selby. "It's an incredibly crowded marketplace of very good players now," said Davis.



"If you picked up a Shaun Murphy or a Mark Selby and transported them back into a time machine into the 1980s, they would have won more. You wouldn't have been able to move for them being in the finals of big events, the standard was not as strong.



"Even in the 1990s, no disrespect to Stephen Hendry, but there is no way he would have had it so much his own way with a Murphy or a Selby around. For both Stephen in his decade and me in mine, we just wouldn't have had as much breathing space to dominate.



"If I had played now, began my career in this current era, there is absolutely no way I would have won 28 ranking titles, and Stephen wouldn't have won 36. I'm not trying to put down our achievements, but it just wouldn't have happened."



Teenage sensation Luca Brecel, aged 17, sparkled in York last week and rising star Judd Trump looks set to be around for a long time to come. "I refuse to believe that the standard hasn't increased all the time," added Davis. "I'm just very thankful looking at what has happened to the game that I was ahead of my era, and Stephen was ahead of his."

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