Mark Selby became the first player to compile a maximum 147 break in a snooker World Championship final as he reduced Luca Brecel’s lead to just one frame on Sunday’s opening day of the showpiece match.
Selby, already a four-time world champion, seized a chance to make history when his Belgian opponent left a red dangling over the corner pocket in the 16th frame at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre.
The 39-year-old Selby — who had to wait until nearly 1:00 am local time Sunday to complete his semi-final win over Mark Allen—took the next as well to head into Monday’s final day just 9-8 down in a best of 35 contest.
Selby won the session 6-3 after Brecel had established a 6-2 lead in Sunday’s opening exchanges.
The Englishman’s 147 came on the 40th anniversary of Cliff Thorburn’s landmark first maximum in any Crucible encounter, against Wales’ Terry Griffiths.
Selby’s break was the 14th maximum break in Crucible history and the second of this year’s Championship after Kyren Wilson’s first-round 147 against Ryan Day.
Brecel, who prior to this year’s tournament had never won a match at the World Championship, had been the comeback king on his way to the final.
He won seven straight frames to beat seven-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan in the last eight, with the 28-year-old then reeling off 11 in a row from 14-5 down to beat China’s Si Jiahui 17-15 in the semi-finals.
Brecel continued his fine form on Sunday as he won the first three frames while making breaks of 77 and 90.
But the gap between sessions appeared to do Selby good as the renowned match-player started the evening with a superb total clearance of 134.
Brecel responded with a sparkling 99 featuring several trick shots on the colours.
But he missed a relatively easy red in the next, with Selby’s ensuing break of 96 reducing the deficit to 7-4.
Brecel then squandered a 42-point lead with another miss in the subsequent frame but recovered well with breaks of 72 and 67 following the mid-session interval to go 9-5 up.
Selby, however, punished a careless Brecel split on the pack with a break of 61 before making light of his 147 attempt after prizing the final awkward red off the side cushion.
Referee Brendan Moore, presiding over his third and last world final before retirement, was the first to congratulate Selby, who was also embraced by a smiling Brecel.
The debutant finalist looked as if he would extend his overnight lead when he went 48 points clear in Sunday’s final frame only for Selby to fight back in a match already shaping up as a classic encounter.
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