The World Champion and world number one reflects on his superb form of recent months and looks ahead to the Betway UK Championship…
Mark, we’re approaching the half way point of the season, you must be delighted by the way it has gone so far.
Yes it has been a great start for me. I’ve won a couple of tournaments (the Paul Hunter Classic and International Championship) and consistently been at the business end of tournaments. Hopefully I can keep it going throughout the season.
The International Championship must have been particularly pleasing in terms of how easily you beat some of the other top players.
I scraped through the first few rounds and then played really well from the quarter-finals onwards. To beat Stuart Bingham and Ding Junhui convincingly in the semis and final gave me a lot of confidence.
Is 2016 the best year of your career so far?
It’s looking that way. Obviously winning the world title for the first time in 2014 was a huge moment for me, but then in the first half of the following season I struggled, I couldn’t relax and play my own game. I learned a lot from that experience and this time I am coping with being World Champion better – and I’ve proved that in my results. I don’t doubt myself any more because I have achieved everything I wanted to in snooker. Even if I never won another tournament I could still put my cue away and be happy.
The York Barbican is one of the best venues on the circuit.
Later this month the Betway UK Championship gets underway and you’ve had a lot of success at the York Barbican. Is it a tournament you always look forward to?
York is a great city and a great venue. It’s a huge tournament and I couldn’t be going into it in much better form. Last year I wasn’t feeling good about my game going into it and ended up losing 6-0 to Neil Robertson in the semi-finals. This time I am full of confidence and I feel I have a chance of winning it.
What do you remember about winning the title in 2012?
I played Shaun Murphy in the final and it wasn’t a great match standard wise. I just did my usual of relying on my B game and ended up taking the last four frames to win 10-6. Shaun had played Ali Carter in the semis the night before and come from 8-4 down to win 9-8, so maybe that took a lot out of him and he wasn’t at his best in the final. Before that, the only Triple Crown event I had won was the Masters, so to get the UK under my belt as well was massive.
Selby celebrates making a historic 147 in York in 2013
The following year you lost to Robertson in the final, but during the semis you made a 147 against Ricky Walden, which was snooker’s 100th official maximum. How special is that piece of history for you?
It’s special to make a 147 in any tournament, so to make the 100th live on BBC in a big event was an amazing feeling. Earlier that year I’d missed the final black for a 147 at the China Open which would have been worth £20,000 (from the rolling prize pot). So it was nice to get that money anyway, in fact the one in York was £55,000.
Talking of money, you have earned over £600,000 this year. Is the financial side always in the back of your mind?
I’ve never once played snooker for the money. When I was a kid I played because I loved the game and wanted to win tournaments, and I’ve never really changed. Of course it helps that we make a great living out of snooker. But I just concentrate on winning matches, and if you do that then the money comes with it.
You’ve got Andy Hicks in the first round in York, is he a dangerous opponent given his experience?
Andy has been a great player over the years and is probably good enough to be on the tour. I remember last year he played Barry Hawkins in the first round of the UK and Andy was unlucky to lose 6-5. I know what I’m up against, but in a way I prefer that to playing someone who I don’t know much about.
Finally, what was behind your decision to withdraw from next week’s Coral Northern Ireland Open?
We’ve had a lot of tournaments recently, and Belfast came in between the Champion of Champions and the UK Championship. I just felt I needed one week’s break, to spend at home with the family and get the right preparation for York. Once I lost in the English Open and my chance of the £1 million bonus was gone, I decided to pull out of Belfast.
Watch Selby along with top stars including Ronnie O’Sullivan, Neil Robertson and Judd Trump at the Betway UK Championship in York from November 22 to December 4.
And with the whole of the first round taking place over the first three days (November 22, 23 and 24) it’s an extraordinary chance for fans to see a wide range of players in action live.
With eight tables in the arena in the early stages, supporters can watch several matches for the price of a single ticket. All-day tickets start at just £11, incredible value to see live sport at the highest level. For details call 0844 854 2757 or CLICK HERE