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Selby has eyes on triple crown
MARK Selby has insisted he is not driven by breaking records but it would be a “great honour” should he be crowned world snooker champion this year and join an exclusive club.
Seven men have won the World, UK and Masters titles at least once while only three – Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry (twice) and Mark Williams – have done it in the same season.
And having already claimed the UK and Masters trophies, Selby is close to adding his name to that prestigious list.
Speaking to Echosport ahead of a highly successful exhibition at Snookes in Weymouth last weekend, the 29-year-old from Leicester underlined his desire to become a world champion and admitted it would mean much more to him than his current number one ranking.
He also reckons that snooker has not missed Ronnie O’Sullivan during his on-going sabbatical from the sport – but would like to see ‘The Rocket’ back to defend his world crown.
Selby knows he needs to stay at the top of his game if he wants to succeed O’Sullivan at the Crucible in Sheffield this April and judging by the way he performed on Saturday night at Snookes you wouldn’t bet against him doing that.
Five century breaks, including four in the first four frames, wowed a packed crowd as Selby took on a number of challengers over one frame.
A second Welsh Open title this week would further enhance Selby’s chances of joining the ‘Triple Crown’ club while lifting the world championship would be a dream come true.
“If you win the world championship no-one can ever take it away from you, whether you win it once or on numerous occasions,” said Selby.
“I’ve not managed to win it yet and if I was to finish my career and not win it I’d be gutted.
“At the same time I’ve had a good career but it would be nice to capture that.
“It's still great to be world number one and I’ve managed to achieve that but a lot of people have asked me if I would swap that to be a world champion and without a shadow of doubt I definitely would.
“Hopefully I wouldn’t have to swap it and I can win it off my own back.
“But there are a lot of great players out there. You’ve got Ronnie O’Sullivan, who in my eyes is still probably the best player on the tour when he’s playing, and John Higgins, who is down to number five but is a top-three player.”
On the possibility of entering the record books, he added: “I don’t really look at the records but at the same time I understand that history is a huge thing in sport, so if I was to do it, it would be a great honour to be among the people who are on that list.
“But I don’t go into every tournament thinking if I win that then I’m going to be up there with so and so.
“It would be nice but I’ll go to the Crucible and try and give it my best like every tournament I’m in.”
While O’Sullivan was winning his fourth world crown last year Selby was getting over a neck injury which led to a first-round defeat by Barry Hawkins.
Now back to full fitness, it could be that Selby won’t have O’Sullivan to worry about this time around with the latter still undecided on whether he will be there to defend his title after a hiatus due to personal problems.
“He’s not played because he’s had personal issues and if he’s got problems then I agree with his choice not to play,” added Selby.
“At the same time I don’t think snooker has missed him as such.
“The snooker has still managed to progress and got good audiences and viewing figures.
“But he definitely does give something to snooker so it would be a shame if he doesn’t come back to the world championships, especially being defending champion.”
Spending most of his life living out of a suitcase is one of the major downsides to snooker as far as Selby is concerned but he has learnt to deal with it and has embraced the changes in the game under World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn.
“I think the sport is as good as it’s ever been,” he said. “Before Barry came in just over two years ago we only had five or six tournaments and didn’t know where the next one was coming from.
“Now we seem to have 25 tournaments in different countries which I’ve never experienced before so it’s onwards and upwards and can only get better.
“But the lifestyle can be tough. You’re always away from home which is not nice but at the same time you’re obviously doing something you love and you can’t really moan much because it’s out of your hands.
“You have to travel to these countries because it’s your job and I enjoy the competitive side of it, that goes without saying, but the travelling is very tiring.”
Snookes frame scores (Selby first): 121-0 Charlie McKinlay (Selby 121), 112-14 Kevin Warbridge (Selby 112), 124-4 Geoff Bosworth (Selby 124), 131-1 John Ryan (Selby 127), 79-43 Darren Bulston (Selby 64), 103-7 Mark Cottingham (Selby 102), 97-26 Barry Webb (Selby 69), 105-7 Gary Norman (Selby 63), 70-29 Bill Monroe (Selby 47), 102-13 David McCarty (Selby 69)