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2023 World Snooker Championship Day 16 Preview: Mark Selby ready for sixth final

The World Snooker Championship has provided plenty of drama and there should be more to come as Mark Selby faces Luca Brecel in a clash of styles in the best-of-35-frame final.

It's been a remarkable run through to the final for Brecel, who had not won a match at the Crucible before this year, but now he faces the toughest test in the sport - Selby in Sheffield over two days with the world title on the line.

Luca Brecel (2/1) v Mark Selby (2/5)

WhatLuca Brecel v Mark Selby
WhereCrucible Theatre, Sheffield
When13:00 & 19:00 Sunday, 13:00 & 19:00 Monday
How to watchbet365 Sports Live Streaming, BBC & Eurosport
OddsLuca Brecel 2/1, Mark Selby 2/5

Fighting spirit sets Selby apart

Selby is relentless at the best of times over the longer distances and the four-time world champion thrives in the final.

Since losing his first World Championship final - going down 18-13 to John Higgins in 2007 when he was a ranking title maiden - Selby has won four straight Crucible finals, beating Ronnie O'Sullivan for his first in 2014.

Ding Junhui was downed in 2016, Higgins in 2017 and Shaun Murphy went the same way in 2021.

The former world number one has also won the Masters three times and the UK Championship twice, taking him to nine Triple Crown titles, with only the true legends of the game in O'Sullivan and Stephen Hendry ahead of him.

That experience edge should stand him in good stead against Brecel and Selby is deserving of his strong favouritism at 2/5 to win the match despite a quick turnaround from an absorbing 17-15 semi-final success over Mark Allen.

The Allen game finished shortly before 01:00 am on Sunday morning local time and most players might struggle to quickly regroup.

However, the Jester from Leicester is renowned at thriving in such circumstances and found the spirit to see off Allen's late charge which had seen the Northern Irishman reel off five frames in a row from a 16-10 deficit.

Selby's safety play a key factor

Some of Selby's slow play can frustrate, but he will never be flustered and still seems capable of grinding it out even when he can become bogged down in tense situations.

Selby started his tournament with three centuries in a 10-8 win over Matthew Selt, although the scoring was nowhere near as high in the 13-7 last-16 victory against Gary Wilson.

Two tons followed against Higgins in a win by the same scoreline and he had three centuries in the Allen triumph, but the shot time in the semi-final was up to 31 seconds which might frustrate his opponent Brecel - nicknamed the Belgian Bullet - who is much more of a free-flowing player on the green baize.

Interestingly, Selby has racked up the highest break in each match despite not being prolific in the balls. His safety play can often tie opponents in knots and he is 4/7 to have the highest break in the final.

Other bigger priced outcomes could come in the correct score market, with Selby 9/1 to win 18-14 and the same odds for an 18-15 triumph. All four of his World Championship final victories have come by one of those two scorelines.

As well as an experience edge, Selby also holds a significant head-to-head advantage over Brecel, winning each of their last six matches. The most important of those came in the 2022 English Open final, when Selby won 9-6 and was never behind in the match.

Selby is 1/1 to win the 2nd session (frames 1-8) and if Brecel is to upset the odds at 9/4 he may well need to start much quicker than he did in a record-breaking semi-final victory over Chinese sensation Si Jiahui.

Related Snooker News

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2023 World Snooker Championship: ‘The Jester from Leicester’, Mark Selby

Brecel comeback shows his mettle

Brecel produced the greatest comeback in Crucible history, reeling off 11 frames in a row against Si, reaching the final despite trailing 14-5 at one stage.

It was the first time anyone had overcome a nine-frame deficit and was all the more impressive considering the Belgian Bullet had misfired terribly on previous trips to Sheffield, failing to win a match in five earlier visits.

Brecel, a UK Championship finalist in 2021, can't match Selby's pedigree and his most notable success came in the 2021 Scottish Open, but he has shown nerves of steel in Sheffield over the past couple of weeks.

He came through a decider against Ricky Walden in round one, beat class act Mark Williams 13-11 in the last-16 and launched a thrilling comeback to down O'Sullivan 13-10 having been 10-6 behind in the quarter-finals.

Brecel's powers of recovery were even more astonishing in the semis, although he admitted to "shaking" in the 17-15 win over Si.

Given Brecel's battles a long match cannot be ruled out and it's 6/1 to go to a deciding frame, while the underdog can be backed at 12/1 to win 18-17. The total frame market line has been set at 31.5 with overs at 10/11.

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