SNOOKER: Mark Selby kept his cool under pressure as he made a century in the deciding frame to edge Thai star Noppon Saengkham 13-12 in a pulsating second round battle of the 2020 World Championship on Friday (Aug 7).
The tremendous match featured five centuries and 15 more breaks over 50, and Noppon gave as good as he got as he battled all the way. But in the end it was three-time Crucible king Selby who produced his best at the key moment.
The Englishman went through to meet Barry Hawkins or Neil Robertson in the quarter-finals; Selby’s first appearance in the last eight since he won the title in 2017.
World No.42 Noppon came through the qualifying rounds and then scored an excellent win over former Crucible champion Shaun Murphy in the last 32.
He came so close to keeping the run going and his only regret might be a loose safety in the deciding frame which let his opponent in for the kill.
Selby and Noppon took turns to win frames of the concluding session and took the score to 10-10 at the interval.
Selby dominated frame 21 to edge ahead, and came from 48-0 down to take the 22nd with a 92 clearance to lead 12-10. Noppon battled back, taking the 23rd in fragments before making a superb 90 for a 12-12 tie.
In the decider, Noppon had two early chances but twice ran out of position. A brief safety exchange ended when Noppon let Selby in for a marvellous 124 that put him into the quarter-finals for the eighth time.
“I’m really proud to have made that break in the last frame,” said 37-year-old Selby. “It was a great match – that was as well as I have played in a while and I still just scraped through. I have been tested and that could help me later in the event.”
Noppon, 28, devoted his impressive performance to the Thai fans, saying: “I did my best and it was made possible by the encouragement I received from my supporters back home.”
He received £30,000 (about B1.2 million) for his efforts and will move up three places to No.39 in the world rankings.
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