World Championship 2017
Venue: The Crucible Theatre, Sheffield Dates: 15 April – 1 May
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, BBC Red Button, Connected TVs, online and app.

English defending champion Mark Selby edged 9-7 ahead of China’s Ding Junhui in an intriguing World Championship semi-final.

In a repeat of last year’s final, Selby trailed 5-3 after the first session but turned the match around with a 100 break, as well as winning tactical frames for four in a row.

Ding’s 84 under pressure halted the run and he got 139 in between Selby’s 67.

The pair return at 19:00 BST in the best-of-33 contest.

In the afternoon session, Scottish four-time champion John Higgins resumes 5-3 up against England’s Barry Hawkins.

Selby makes Ding suffer

While Thursday’s first session was mostly free-scoring, with Ding compiling breaks of 110, 84 and 76 to go ahead, the Chinese player was left to suffer in the second session after being worn down by his opponent.

Leicester’s Selby, a master of attritional snooker, took the first four frames, which included two scrappy frames lasting more than 30 minutes each. He also managed frame-winning breaks to showcase his all-round game.

But Ding, who overcame Ronnie O’Sullivan in the previous round, displayed his new-found mental strength again with crucial contributions but the world number one took a 34-minute frame to lead by two.

Analysis

John Parrott, 1991 world champion:

Granite, absolute granite matchplay snooker from Mark Selby. He is world champion and world number one because his game is at such a high standard.

Ding Junhui had a headache every time he came to the table. The man from China had him in all sorts of trouble, but Selby somehow manages to get out of it and then all of a sudden you are in trouble. It was a wonderful session of how to get yourself back into a match.

Six-time world champion Steve Davis on BBC TV:

Mark Selby is the ultimate snooker Terminator. The only person who could beat him is Sarah Connor, if she came out of the woodwork. You have to up your safety game when you play against Selby, that is being ultra-critical of Ding, whose safety has been fantastic anyway.


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