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Victory “irrelevant” for emotional Mark Selby at the World Snooker Championship

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Mark Selby admitted that victory over Jamie Jones was ‘irrelevant’ as he made a successful start to his World Championship title defence.

The reigning champion booked his place in round two on Saturday with a 10-7 win over his Welsh opponent, compiling three centuries along the way.

Selby bravely revealed his ongoing battle with mental health issues following defeat by Barry Hawkins at the Masters back in January.

The Jester subsequently missed the inaugural Turkish Masters and Gibraltar Open to take a much-needed break from the sport – during which he also contemplated withdrawing from the World Championship.

Nevertheless, the defending champion is back at the Crucible, where he received a terrific reception from the Sheffield crowd.

Selby appreciated the support, but admitted that enjoyment is his main focus at snooker’s blue-riband event this year rather than the pursuit for a fifth title.

“Walking out there, I was quite emotional – I had to hold it in a little bit – and even at the end,” he said.

“Normally, I would come here quite confident and believing in my own ability. But what I’ve been through the past few months has been quite tough, so to go out there and still perform to a reasonably high level and come through was tough.

“When I potted the winning ball, it was more relief than anything else.

“Six or seven weeks ago, I was thinking of pulling out and that I needed to work on myself; I wasn’t really sure back then if I’d play in the World Championship.

“The result for me was irrelevant. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to win, but it was just a matter of being out there and trying to enjoy it.

“I’ve always said that once I stop enjoying the game, that would be it for me because it’s all I’ve ever done and known.”

The world number two also paid tribute to his opponent, who was appearing on the sport’s biggest stage for the fifth time.

“I’ve got so much respect for Jamie,” Selby said of the 2012 quarter-finalist. “I think he’s a great lad and it’s great to see him back on the tour.

“It’s nice that he’s showing how good he is and climbing back up the rankings again. It was a tough game and I’m happy to get through.”

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