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Mark Selby edges John Higgins in dramatic decider to claim China Championship glory

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Selby secures his 15th ranking title (credit:Eurosport)

Selby secures his 15th ranking title (credit:Eurosport)

Mark Selby held his nerve in a marathon battle to edge out John Higgins 10-9 and claim the 2018 China Championship title in Guangzhou on Sunday.

The world number one underlined his granite reputation to deny the veteran Scot in a repeat of the 2017 World Championship final and claim his 15th career ranking title.

Higgins had forged a narrow 5-4 lead at the close of play in the first session but the decorated duo remain inseparable after 18 frames before Selby stuck the final blow.

Selby produced breaks of 80 and 72 on the way to an early 3-1 lead before Higgins reeled off the next three frames with breaks of 52 and 65 to go ahead.

Selby then restored parity with a brilliant break of 118 but an 85 in response from Higgins gave him the upper-hand at the halfway stage.

Leicester ace Selby drew first blood in the second session with a 70 break to level, and after the pair exchanged frames 11 and 12, ‘The Jester’ added a break of 60 to lead 7-6.

Higgins, though, clinched a hard-fought fourteenth frame and got his nose back in front thanks to a 61 break in the next.

The nip and tuck nature of the contest continued as Selby secured frame 16 to go back level, and after Higgins had edged the next by 68 points to 60, Selby then produced a fine clearance under pressure from the final red to black to snatch frame 18 and force a fitting decider.

The fierce match play continued in the decider beyond midnight local time but it was Selby who controlled proceedings and got over the line to extend his unbeaten run in televised finals to seven.

Selby began the week with a 5-3 win over Thailand’s Sunny Akani before thrashing 16-year-old Chang Bingyu 5-1 and defeating Iran’s Hossein Vafaei 5-3 in Round Three.

He then saw off Yuan Sijun 5-2 before fending off a spirited effort from another Chinese youngster – Zhao Xintong – to wrap up a 6-4 victory in the Semi-Finals.