Mark Selby wasted little time in completing a 13-6 defeat of Xiao Guodong to reach the quarter-finals of the Betfred World Championship.
Selby started play 10-6 in front and claimed a clean-sweep of the frames this afternoon to secure the comfortable victory. The World Champion appeared to take his game up a level this afternoon as he steps up his bid to become just the fourth player to defend a Crucible title after Steve Davis, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Stephen Hendry. The win today sees him reach the quarter-final stage for the seventh time.
Xiao’s World Championship journey comes to a disappointing end, but he did record his first ever win at the Crucible in the first round, defeating Ryan Day.
The Jester from Leicester spent just 41 minutes at the table this afternoon, as he compiled breaks of 101, 73 and 60 to ease over the finish line. In stark contrast Selby’s quarter-final opponent will have to come through a stern test. He faces Marco Fu or Neil Robertson, who are locked together at 8-8 and are set for a grandstand finish this evening.
Selby said: “I felt as though I played a really solid game and didn’t really make too many mistakes. I put Xiao under pressure and a lot of the time when he missed I seemed to capitalise. Coming into this session with a four frame lead was vital.
“Xiao is a great player. He got to the final at the Shanghai Masters a few years ago and I thought he was going to kick on. He didn’t really and sort of hit a brick wall for a couple of seasons. He’s proved again this tournament what a great player he is and he has a good future.
“I don’t feel under pressure as much, but I suppose that goes down to the season I’ve had leading into it. If I’d come here having not won anything and struggling a bit for form it would have been a little bit different with the defending champion tag on my back. But that isn’t the case this year and I seem to be really relaxed and enjoying my snooker and I think it is showing.”
Afterwards Xiao admitted to feeling the constant pressure applied by the World Champion.
“When I see him play here he’s very relaxed, sometimes I’m a little bit nervous, I don’t enjoy it,” said the world number 44. “In the second session I played better and enjoyed it more. But, at 10-6 down it’s hard to come back.
“He played very well in this game, his safety is always very, very good. I think if I want to beat him I need to do everything better, so it’s hard. Next time I know what to do.”