Mark Selby paid tribute to his late father after beating John Higgins 6-4 in a Champion of Champions thriller on Monday.
The Jester prevailed in an enthralling battle between the four-time World champions at the Bolton Whites Hotel to advance to the semi-finals of the prestigious invitational event for the third time.
It was an emotional day for Selby – exactly 23 years since the passing of his father David – and he revealed the anniversary made him increasingly determined to come through.
“I could feel myself getting choked up towards the end. I felt like I gave it everything out there,” he told ITV.
“Every time I sat in my chair, I was thinking of him, thinking ‘if I win or lose, I’m going to go and leave nothing out there,’ and that’s exactly what I did. I did it for him today.”
Selby scored just seven points when he last met Higgins, who recorded an astonishing 6-0 whitewash as he blitzed the entire field on the way to Players Championship glory in 2021.
But the Jester ensured there would no repeat of that nearly two years on, opening with a remarkable total clearance of 140, before his opponent levelled with 57.
The next two frames were shared before Selby edged his nose back in front at 3-2, only for 2016 champion Higgins to eclipse his earlier effort as he levelled with a magnificent 141 total clearance.
It continued to be neck and neck as the contest went four-all. But the Scotsman was unable to capitalise on 22 in the ninth frame, missing an ambitious red to the top corner pocket, and his opponent stepped in with a brilliant 105 clearance for 5-4.
Higgins was first in again the following frame, and he was unlucky to run out of position on 45. However, Selby ruthlessly punished a loose safety shot, clearing with 81 to remain on course for a maiden title.
“Playing John, I knew I had to be at the top of my game, or else I’d be going home. I thought both of us played well from start to finish; I thought it was a great game,” he added.
“Everything I threw at him; he threw back at me. It was just blow for blow, but I’m happy to get over the line.
“If I’d have lost, I don’t think I’d have done much wrong. But I managed to make a good break in the last frame and hold myself together.”
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