Selby holds off Ding to win second world snooker title
Mark Selby held off a gutsy Ding Junhui fightback to clinch his second World Snooker Championship title with an 18-14 victory at the Crucible on Monday.
Selby had raced into 6-0 lead on Sunday but carried just a three-frame advantage into day two after Ding fought back to 10-7.
The nightmare start that blighted the tournament's first Asian finalist showed no sign of resurfacing as he claimed the opening two frames of the third session to close within one of the 2014 champion.
Selby responded with a break of 126, before Ding, who came through qualifying to reach the Crucible, fired in his 14th century of the tournament to once again close the gap.
After losing the first mini-session 3-1, Selby returned the favour after the interval to restore his three-frame lead heading into the home stretch.
The winning line was in site after Selby potted a difficult black to steal the 27th frame and go 16-11 up, but a Ding recovery, which included his 15th ton, placed any celebrations on hold.
However, world number one Selby stemmed the flow in a hard-fought 31st and clinched his historic win with a 74 break in the last.
Victory for Selby sees him join Stephen Hendry (seven), Steve Davis (six), Ronnie O'Sullivan (five), John Higgins (four) and Mark Williams (two) as a multiple Crucible champion.
Ding's challenge appeared all but over after falling five behind, but a run of three frame wins in succession to reduce the deficit to two piled the pressure on Selby. Frame 31 presented the Englishman with the possibility of moving to within a frame of victory or allowing Ding to further reduce the cushion. A tense tussle in which both players made mistakes - the kind of drawn-out tactical affair that Selby thrives on - ended in victory for the champion elect.
Ding outfoxed by Selby
Selby has been chasing Crucible glory against the backdrop of his beloved Leicester City sitting on the brink of wrapping up a remarkable Premier League title. The 32-year-old claimed his first world crown in the same season Leicester won promotion to the English top flight as second-tier champions, and a 2-2 draw between Chelsea and Tottenham - played out while Selby was mired in a 50-minute 31st-frame battle with Ding - handed the Foxes the title, teeing up another snooker-football double for the city.
Weight of a nation
"Ding Junhui is a credit to his sport, a credit to the people of China and he takes with him the expectancy of an entire nation," World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn said of runner-up Ding, who showed tremendous character and resolve to make a contest of the final after a difficult first session. "The pressure he's under is really quite incalculable. But look at the way he played from 6-0 down to be a competitive player in one of the most intriguing finals I've ever seen."
Frame by frame
Mark Selby (Eng) 18-14 Ding Junhui (Chn)
Day one: 125-8, 70-68, 101-43, 124-0, 100-0, 77-38, 47-68, 14-107, 73-22, 30-92, 1-103, 49-93, 71-1, 0-86, 52-82, 86-25, 67-27.
Day two: 7-121, 56-61, 126-11, 0-103, 75-43, 118-9, 1-69, 75-11, 103-0, 67-60, 0-87, 0-108, 0-103, 59-11, 74-0.