Mark Selby produced his best performance of the season to beat Ricky Walden 6-0 and earn a quarter-final meeting with Ronnie O’Sullivan at the Dafabet Masters.
World number one Selby fired a century and four more breaks over 60 to beat Walden and set up a tie with O’Sullivan on Thursday at 1pm (tickets still available – click here).
Selby has yet to win a title so far this season, though he showed consistent form before Christmas in reaching the semi-finals of the International Championship and UK Championship. On tonight’s evidence the 32-year-old from Leicester could be on the verge of adding to his trophy collection.
He has faced O’Sullivan three times before at the Masters and all of those have been finals. The Rocket won 10-8 in 2009 and 10-4 in 2014 while Selby beat him 10-9 in 2010 to claim the second of his three titles at snooker’s biggest invitation event.
Walden, who has only reached the quarter-finals once in five attempts, looked to be off to a good start tonight when he made 52 in the opening frame before running out of position. Selby pulled out a tremendous 71 clearance which included a series of brilliant pots. That set the tone as he knocked in further runs of 113, 66 and 81 to lead 4-0 at the interval. He then got the better of a scrappy fifth frame before completing the rout with an 83 in the next.
“That’s definitely the best I have played this season,” said 2014 world Champion Selby. “Even in getting to a couple of semi-finals in China and at the UK I didn’t play anywhere near that standard. I don’t know where the clearance in the first frame came from because usually you just want an easy chance to settle down. Ricky looked comfortable to start with but then I potted some great balls which was really pleasing. Even though it was early on it turned out to be very important because I settled down and Ricky missed a few.
“I just kept focussed and got to 4-0 and it was always going to be hard for him to come back from that. I played well at the Championship League last week, something seemed to click. Today I felt comfortable on every shot and didn’t feel as if I was going to miss at any stage.
“Every time I play Ronnie it’s a good game, I’m looking forward to it. I’ll probably need to play as well as I did tonight to beat him.”