Mark Selby won his second ranking title in as many months by crushing Gary Wilson 10-2 in the final of the Baic Motor China Open.
World number one Selby dominated the final in Beijing against a player 55 places below him in the rankings to take the £85,000 top prize and the sixth ranking title of his career.
Leicester’s 31-year-old Selby becomes the first player to win two ranking titles this season, having captured the German Masters crown in February. His first China Open title is also a confidence boost ahead of his World Championship defence, which starts on April 18th in Sheffield.
Selby suffered from neck pain early in the week, but was relieved to discover it wasn’t a recurrence of the bulging disc he suffered in 2012 which forced him to pull out of this event. Instead, he took advantage of a draw which allowed him to win the title without facing a single player ranked within the world’s top 16.
Selby won the first three frames of the final, taking two of those on the colours. Wilson, who had never previously got further than the quarter-finals of a ranking event, got a frame on the board with a break of 91 in the fourth.
But Selby took the next two with clearances of 39 and 54, and that broke Wilson’s resistance as the Wallsend cueman scored just three points in the next four frames. Selby compiled a tournament-high break of 145 as well as a 136 in building a 9-1 lead. Wilson managed a century of his own – 101 – before Selby clinched the title in frame 12.
“I played well for the majority of the match,” said Selby. “To be 8-1 up at the end of the first session probably wasn’t a fair reflection on how the match had gone, as a few frames could have gone either way but I managed to pinch them. When I was 6-1 up, it could easily have been 4-3.
“I don’t think I’ve ever won a title before without having to face a top 16 player, but that just shows how high the standard is these days because the likes of Gary and Ben Woollaston are good enough to reach finals.
“I’m really happy to win this title for the first time, especially having lost in the final twice. It was a good crowd out there tonight with a good atmosphere.
“I’ll get home tomorrow, have a few days off and then get back on the practice table to prepare for the Crucible.”
World number 56 Wilson, age 29, collected his biggest career cheque of £35,000. The former world under-21 champion, who gave up snooker for several years and worked as a taxi driver before returning to the pro tour in 2013, said: “I was looking forward to being in the final, but I let myself down today because I didn’t perform the way I can.
“I’m disappointed to have played like that and lost by such a heavy scoreline. I missed a lot of chances. I can still take some positives from the tournament and look forward to the World Championship. Even though I beat Ding Junhui in the semi-finals yesterday, there was still something in the back of my mind saying I wasn’t playing well, and today I went backwards. It wasn’t pressure or nerves because I felt comfortable. I just cued across a lot of balls and played some very bad shots, which cost me a lot of frames.”