- The Masters
Selby survives scare at the Masters
Reigning champion Mark Selby survived a scare in his opening match of the Masters after edging out Mark Davis 6-5 at the Alexandra Palace.
Having led 4-0 and 5-2, Selby appeared to be easing into the quarter-finals. However, Davis fought back to take the encounter into a deciding frame. But, Selby held his nerve to avoid crashing out to take the win.
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The top seed defeated Neil Robertson 12 months ago to become only the sixth player in the history of the game to win three or more Masters titles, and his quest for a fourth triumph at the prestigious event began with a win over the player who has yet to taste victory at the tournament in three attempts.
Following a scrappy opening to the match, it was Davis who had the first opportunity. However, he broke down on 23, allowing Selby to step in and move in front with a break of 59.
Selby kept the early momentum going by knocking in a long red, and doubled his advantage by rattling in an 80 to keep Davis in his seat in the second frame.
The players were briefly called off, with earpieces in the arena needing to be replaced for the spectators after the television commentary had been coming through on the loudspeakers.
But the stoppage did not prevent Selby from building on his lead, as following a long bout of safety, Selby with two efforts of 22 and 36 made it 3-0.
Selby, who has only won the Antwerp Open this season and reached the final of the UK Championship, was cruising on 58, but when he missed, Davis came storming back in the fourth frame with a 42 having not potted a ball for an hour.
However, Davis was unlucky not to land nicely on the final red, and that enabled Selby to knock it in and clinch a 4-0 scoreline at the midsession interval.
After the interval, Davis avoided the dreaded whitewash by collecting his first frame of the match, making an 80 after Selby missed a red along the bottom cushion early on.
Selby once again broke down, this time on the final yellow while on 54, and he lost the battle on the black, with Davis rolling it into the right middle to close the gap to two frames at 4-2.
Selby was not punished for more than one miss in the seventh frame, and the reigning champion stopped the rot to go within one frame of victory at 5-2.
Davis though continued to stick with Selby, and knocked in the first century of the tournament as his 136 once again reduced the deficit to a couple of frames.
And he kept the match alive by coming from 44 points behind to make a break of 49 and trail by just one frame at 5-4. Selby was misfiring, and Davis with runs of 62 and 61 forced a final frame.
But Selby, who trailed Stuart Bingham 5-1 and Graeme Dott 4-1 en route to winning the event last year, came out on top in a tense decider.
"I played well. Before the interval I thought I played quite well. I then seemed to go out there and lose a little bit of focus, and to be fair, Mark started playing better," Selby said after the tough win.
"When I tried to get myself focused again, it was getting harder and harder. When you lose your concentration it's very hard to try and get back. I said to myself that I'm playing well, so just go and do what you're doing, but for whatever reason I just lost focus, and every credit to Mark."