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Joe O’Connor stuns Mark Selby on dream World Snooker Championship debut

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Selby congratulates O’Connor (Photo credit: Martin Rickett/Alamy)

Joe O’Connor pulled off a memorable debut victory over his snooker idol Mark Selby in Round One of the World Championship on Monday.

After seven failed attempts at qualifying, O’Connor grasped his chance on his first Crucible outing as he completed a 10-6 win over the four-time champion at The Crucible.

The world number 30 had stormed into a 7-2 lead following the first session on Sunday and held off a late rally from his fellow Leicester cueman to advance to the Last 16.

“It was a dream draw for me to play Mark at the pinnacle of our sport, and it’s amazing to win,” said O’Connor, who will now face either Kyren Wilson or Dominic Dale.

“Obviously I don’t want Mark to retire. He has inspired me to be where I am today.”

Selby made a superb start to the second session, firing in a break of 118, and added a further break of 91 to make it three frames from four and trail 8-5.

O’Connor steadied the ship with a 57 break to move within a frame of victory, and after Selby responded with a 67 in frame 15, the 28-year-old shut down any hopes of a comeback as he sealed the biggest win of his career to date.

Defeat for Selby marked only his fifth First Round exit in 20 World Championship appearances, bringing the curtain down on a difficult season on and off the baize.

The world number five cast doubt over his playing future at the recent Tour Championship and admitted he will take time to consider his options over the summer.

“It was pathetic from start to finish,” said Selby. “The damage was done from 2-2 to 7-2. I made it easier for Joe and gave myself too much to do.

“I will definitely still review it because I stopped myself from playing well when I had my chances and I can’t keep doing that because it makes me ill and gets me down mentally.

“I will sit down with Vikki and see what the options are. It will be a big decision but if I carry on playing I need help, probably on the mental side of it, to enjoy the game a bit more.

“I don’t want to go through the motions and feel like playing is a chore. I will take a long time to think about it over the summer. Away from snooker I’m happy, then when I come to snooker it’s the opposite.”

Meanwhile, Gary Wilson became the fifth seeded player to fall at the first hurdle in this year’s competition as he went down 10-5 to Stuart Bingham.

Bingham fired in breaks of 98, 53, 117 and 76 on his way to establishing a 6-3 first session lead, despite missing the final black to gift Wilson the ninth frame.

Wilson took the opening two frames of the evening with breaks of 86 and 57 to close to within one, but only for the 2015 World Champion to reel off four in a row to seal a commanding victory.

Shaun Murphy swept aside Lyu Haotian by the same scoreline to reach the Last 16 at The Crucible for the first time since 2021.

The 2005 World Champion led 6-3 following Sunday’s first session and won four of the next seven frames to set up a showdown with Stephen Maguire.

Recent Tour Championship winner Mark Williams holds a slender 5-4 lead over last year’s Crucible semi-finalist Si Jiahui going into their second session.

Williams set his stall out in style with a sensational break of 142 – the joint highest of the tournament so far – and trailed 4-3 before compiling successive breaks of 57 and 63 to hit the front.

Robert Milkins, the number 16 seed, trails Pang Junxu 5-4 at the halfway stage, having made breaks of 83 and 91 after Pang had led 3-1.

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World Snooker Championship 2024 Day Three Scores

Monday April 22

Round One

Gary Wilson 5-10 Stuart Bingham
Shaun Murphy 10-5 Lyu Haotian
Mark Williams (5-4) Si Jiahui
Mark Selby 6-10 Joe O’Connor
Robert Milkins (4-5) Pang Junxu