Mark Selby secures European Masters title in dramatic decider
Mark Selby held his nerve to prevail in a last-frame decider and claim the European Masters title at the expense of Martin Gould in Milton Keynes.
Selby had withstood a spirited fightback from Gould – who recovered from 4-0 down to lead 5-4 and eventually force a deciding frame shoot-out.
The Leicester ace produced a nerveless break of 72 to clinch the season’s first silverware at the Marshall Arena and the 18th ranking title of his career.
“I thought it was a good final from start to finish, we both missed a few balls but you’re going to do that in a best of 17,” said Selby.
“If I’d have lost, I’d have had no complaints.
“From 4-0, Martin played fantastic to get himself back in the match, then after that it was nip and tuck and it could have gone either way.
“Martin’s a class player and a dangerous opponent. He was saying only two months ago that he was going to retire, thankfully he’s managed to sort things out off the table and that’s helping him on the table.
“Hopefully I can maintain this form and carry it on throughout the season.”
Selby looked to be cruising towards a one-sided victory when he stormed into a 4-0 lead at the first interval with breaks of 130 and 96 along the way.
Gould, though, found his range and produced breaks of 70 and 131 on the way to levelling the final at four apiece at the close of play in the first session.
The former German Masters champion continued the turnaround after the restart, making a 94 break to go in front for the first time.
Selby, however, stopped the rot with a 56 break, and after Gould responded with a 65 in frame 11, the three-time World Champion levelled again courtesy of a clinical 113 clearance.
Selby then regained the upper-hand at 7-6 but only for Gould to reply with his second century – a 107 break – to get back on level terms.
Selby edged a low-scoring 15th frame after Gould had missed a crucial blue, but the Pinner Potter recovered superbly with a break of 96 to force a decider.
Gould could only sit and hope for a chance as Selby struck first, but was kept in his seat as ‘The Jester’ went on to make a 72 break and clinch the title.
“I thought it was a great game,” said Gould. “We both scored really heavily and punished each other for our mistakes.
“When I hit the blue at 7-7 I can’t believe it’s not gone in, but that’s part of the parcel of the game.
“I’m just very pleased that I’ve come here this week and competed with the very best players in the world.
“I’ve had a really rough time for the last two years or so, not just personal stuff but on the table as well, so I’m delighted to be in the final but obviously gutted to have lost 9-8.”
Selby is now level with Neil Robertson on 18 ranking titles, tied sixth in the all-time list, and has now picked up a title in each of the last ten years.