Mark Selby looking to conquer the ‘Curse of the Crucible’ and retain title

Mark Selby knows he has to not only defeat 31 other players vying to cause an upset at the BetFred World Snooker Championship but he must also conquer the ’Curse of the Crucible’.

Mark Selby looking to conquer the ‘Curse of the Crucible’ and retain title

The 31-year-old beat Ronnie O’Sullivan to win the title last year and goes into the 2015 tournament in good form having sealed victory in the China Open earlier this month.

With the tournament getting under way on Saturday, Selby is looking to break the so-called curse — no first-time champion has ever been able to successfully defend the crown the following year.

The run goes all the way back to when the event first switched to Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre in 1977 and Selby believes breaking the run would add even more gravitas to picking up back-to-back world championships.

“The record speaks for itself,” the world number one said. “It is in the back of my mind, you can’t take that away. I feel I’m confident enough and have just won my last tournament so I feel ready to defend it.

“Just to win it once as I did last year was a fantastic achievement for me but to win it twice and break the curse would be outstanding.

“I also heard that no one has ever won the China Open and then gone on to win the World Championship so you could say there are two records.”

Names such as Steve Davis, Dennis Taylor, Stephen Hendry, John Higgins, and Ronnie O’Sullivan have all failed in their attempt to retain the title following their maiden win.

Selby believes you become a marked man once you have made an impact. “It is such a hard tournament to win. Just to win it one time is hard enough and to go there and try and defend it is twice as hard,” he said.

“You look at the players who have won it over the years, O’Sullivan, Hendry, Steve Davis — it just shows you how hard the tournament is.

“I will be definitely trying harder, it will be in the back of my mind to inspire me and push me on even more.

“Now I’m trying to make a name for myself I have noticed that players are raising their game against you because you are seen as more of a scalp than you were five or six years ago — in a way that just shows what you have achieved and is a good accolade.”

Meanwhile Ireland’s former world champion Ken Doherty is on the brink of exiting the Betfred World Snooker Championships in the final qualifying round.

Doherty, who lifted the title in 1997, trails Mark Davis 8-1 after the first session of their third-round qualifier at Ponds Forge in Sheffield.

The 45-year-old faces an uphill battle to avoid becoming the third Crucible winner to crash out this week when play resumes at midday.

Graeme Dott, another former champion, must come from behind on Wednesday to book his place in the main draw as he trails world number 52 Yu Delu 5-4.

Elsewhere, former world championship runner-up Matthew Stevens leads Joe Swail 5-4 as he bids for a first Crucible appearance since 2013.

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