Mark Selby of England celebrates victory after the final with John Higgins of Scotland at the World Snooker Championship 2017 at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, Britain on May. 1, 2017. Mark Selby won 18-15. (Xinhua/Han Yan)
SHEFFIELD, England, May 1 (Xinhua) -- Defending champion Mark Selby came back from 10-4 down to beat four-time winner John Higgins 18-15 to take the title of the World Snooker Championship at the Crucible here on Monday.
The 33-year-old Selby, who lifted the trophy in 2014 and 2016, became the fourth player after Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry and Ronnie O'Sullivan to win back-to-back titles since 1977.
Scotland's Higgins, 41, surrendered the early lead and trailed 13-11 after Monday afternoon's third session. Selby extended his lead to 16-12 before Higgins made an impressive late rally to narrow the gap to 16-15. But in the end he was no match for his unflappable and determined opponent.
Selby also pocketed the biggest prize in snooker history of 375,000 pounds and smashed Hendry's long-standing record of 740,000 pounds for the most prize money earned in a single season. Selby has won 932,000 this season.
"It's a fantastic feeling," said Selby. "I was confident coming here because of the season I'd had. I was just taking one frame at a time. When I was 10-4 down yesterday I thought there's no way in the world I was going to come back from that, I was trying to make it respectable. At one stage I was thinking I could lose with a session to spare."
"To get out 10-7, it felt like I was leading. I don't know how I managed to win those three frames, because before that I was shattered. My game was all over the place, missing ball after ball, making it easy for John. The harder I was trying the worse it got. I managed to nick those three frames and that gave me confidence. I think John went to bed that night thinking he'd let one go," Selby said.
"It is such a hard tournament to win physically and mentally. Snooker is one of the toughest sports in the world. There's only four players that have ever defended it and you look at the greats who have played the game," he added.
Higgins won a runner-up prize of 160,000 pounds and moved up to number two in world rankings.
"I think Mark will add to that, whether it's one, two, three or four," said Higgins. "He looks as though he could be the challenger to Stephen Hendry's seven world titles. He's just granite and really tough to play against, so I take my hat off to him. It's up to the likes of Robertson, Trump and Ding to challenge him. They'll be watching that tonight and it will make them desperate to get back on the practice table," Higgens predicted.
"I'm delighted to have got to the final. It's just a pity I couldn't go one better, but I'm proud of myself," he concluded.