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O'Sullivan: I went numb in World Championship final

ESPN staff
May 5, 2014 « Rodgers: It was a comic book collapse | Test Wayin World Cup »
There was nowhere to hide for Ronnie O'Sullivan in his World Championship final defeat to Mark Selby © Getty Images
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Deposed world snooker champion Ronnie O'Sullivan admitted he "went numb" in his 18-14 defeat by Mark Selby at the Crucible as he lost in the game's biggest final for the first time in his career.

Chasing a third successive title and his sixth world crown of his career, O'Sullivan was firmly in command at 10-5 ahead on Sunday evening before Selby came roaring back, taking a 12-11 lead into the final session.

O'Sullivan was kept from playing his natural flowing game by Selby's excellent defensive approach and he conceded that he had been put through the mill by his opponent, who is world champion for the first time.

"That was tough," O'Sullivan told the BBC. "He had me in all sorts of trouble for two days, really, and in the end I went numb. I tried my hardest but in the end he was just too strong, too tough and he's a very good champion."

But O'Sullivan stressed how proud he was of his efforts in a final that so ill-suited his game and temperament. "I've never been in such a good place," he said. "Four or five years ago, I would have thrown the towel in in that match but I never gave in and I'm proud of how I stuck in there and tried to the end.

"I just didn't have it today and I'm sorry for not giving a better performance but I tried my hardest."

Asked about a key missed pink in Frame 23 that allowed Selby to establish that 12-11 lead heading into the evening session, O'Sullivan cited a missed black on Sunday as a bigger turning point in the match.

"It was disappointing to miss it [the pink] but I think the black last night at 10-5 was probably more important," he explained.

"If we'd both been going at it hammer and tongs against each other then a ball like that [in Frame 23] could be a turning point but the match was more about safety. So it wasn't about one missed ball.

"He just outfought me, outbattled me, outdone me and I've got no complaints. I tried my hardest."

Selby, who becomes world No.1 once again and is the ninth man to complete the career triple crown of World, Masters and UK championships, also cited the comeback from 10-5 to 10-7 overnight as a key moment in the match.

"It was a tough day yesterday," he said. "My back had been up against the wall and it could have been all over against one of the best front-runners in the world.

"To get it back to 10-7, I knew I was in with a chance. Any other score than that was going to be difficult."

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