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Greatest ever snooker matches

The Masters starts on Sunday 7th January and the crowds at Alexandra Palace will hope to witness some great matches as the game's elite assembles in North London. 

Here is our choice of the five greatest snooker matches, presented in chronological order, to whet the appetite for what should be a great week of competition.

WhatThe Masters
WhereAlexandra Palace, London
WhenSunday 7th January - Sunday 14th January
How to watchLive on BBC and Eurosport
Outright oddsJudd Trump 7/2, Ronnie O’Sullivan 4/1, Mark Selby 13/2, Neil Robertson 14/1, Mark Allen 14/1, Shaun Murphy 14/1

1982 World Championship semi-final - Alex Higgins 16-15 Jimmy White

Jimmy White was unseeded and celebrated his 20th birthday during the 1982 World Championship before he was involved in a titanic semi-final against Alex Higgins.

The match was 4-4 at the end of the first session and would be nip and tuck all the way as White won the next four but Higgins fought back to be 8-7 behind.

White took a 15-13 lead to need just one of the final three frames to make his first final, and it looked as if he would make the showpiece after going 59 points up in the penultimate frame.

But Higgins had other ideas and produced a 62-point clearance that has been hailed as the greatest in the game's history before his own break of 59 put the Northern Irishman into the final, where he claimed the world crown for the second time by beating Ray Reardon.

1984 Masters semi-final - Jimmy White 6-4 Kirk Stevens

Two of the most exciting players in the game put together an epic Masters semi-final at Wembley Conference Centre in 1984.

Great friends White and Kirk Stevens produced a clash that will be remembered principally for the Canadian becoming only the third player after Steve Davis and Cliff Thorburn to score a televised 147 break in the ninth frame of the best-of-11 contest.

However, there was no stopping White, and he posted a phenomenal break of 119 that contained some outrageous spin shots that displayed the Londoners' huge talent.

Stevens could only applaud with everyone else as White booked his passage into a final with Terry Griffiths, winning that match 9-5.

1985 World Championship final - Dennis Taylor 18-17 Steve Davis

The 1985 World Championship is easily the most memorable snooker match of all time, watched by a TV audience of 18.5 million people into the early hours of Monday morning.

Davis was a machine who had won three of the previous four World Championships and was firmly in control of the final after winning the opening seven frames.

However, Taylor, who had famously adjusted his spectacles so he could effectively wear them upside down, fought back to 13-11 down at the end of the third session.

The Northern Irishman did not lead in the match until the final ball was potted and it took 68 minutes to complete the closing frame for an epic victory.

There was not a single century break in the 35 frames, but as a snooker match, the tension will probably never be beaten.

1991 Masters final - Stephen Hendry 9-8 Mike Hallett

Another of the greatest comebacks in snooker history took place in the 1991 Masters at the Wembley Conference Centre.

Stephen Hendry had been 1/6 favourite to see off Mike Hallett in the final, but his opponent from Grimsby flew out of the traps.

Hallett established a 7-0 lead in the best-of-17 final and although he missed a pink to move to 8-0 up, he was still cruising at 7-2.

Just the pink and black were needed for him to win the 11th frame, but he missed with the rest and Hendry mopped up to cut the deficit and stay in the tournament.

The Scot then crushed Hallett's hopes with another six frames to claim a 9-7 victory.

2020 World Championship semi-final - Ronnie O'Sullivan 17-16 Mark Selby

Snooker may not generate the same significant TV audiences that it did during its heyday, but viewers are still treated to classic matches, such as the 2020 World Championship semi-final between Ronnie O'Sullivan and Mark Selby.

It seemed as if the Jester from Leicester would get over the line when he established a 16-14 lead, but O'Sullivan wasn't done, playing ultra-positively in the face of Selby's usual dogged determination.

The Rocket fired in a 138 break before forcing a final-frame decider with a 71 and then looked in control when he hit a break of 65 before missing a long red.

Selby replied with 34 and forced O'Sullivan into a tricky snooker from which he escaped with a rather erratic shot and then secured the win after potting a red that his opponent had failed to leave safe.

He would go on to win his sixth world title by beating Kyren Wilson 18-8 in the final.

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