We are down to the final of the British Open with two heavyweights of the game battling it out for what is becoming one of the biggest prizes in the sport once again as Mark Williams takes on Mark Selby for the title.
These two players have navigated a tricky path through the random draw this week to take their place in the final where 10 is the magic number for someone to walk off with the trophy and the benefits that come with it.
There is something about this tournament that seems to get the juices flowing for Mark Williams. He won it when it was reintroduced to the calendar a couple of years ago and now he is back looking to regain the title. That was the last event Williams won but he has threatened some big titles since then having reached the concluding match of The Masters as well as the Shootout and the Championship League.
That he hasn’t won any of those finals would be a cause for concern but two of them were short sprints where he ran into inspired opponents and Judd Trump was probably too good for him at The Masters, however Williams looks in a confident place with his game. He is scoring well when he gets in and as ever he is wily and offers up little to an opponent. You sense he needs a good start here but if he gets it he could be dangerous.
Mark Selby will be well aware that he has never won an ITV event before, a stat which is incredible when you consider how long snooker has been back on that channel and how dominant Selby has been in the game in that time. I don’t think there is anything to it necessarily. This is the first time he has reached a final of an ITV event so he is already treading new ground here. The one thing we know about Selby is his record in finals is up there with the best.
Selby has played in 60 finals in his career in the various tournaments and has lifted the trophy on 38 occasions. He has won 17 of his last 19 finals but did lose his latest one to Luca Brecel at the Crucible and I daresay he would have swapped a few wins to come out on top in that game. Selby has scored very well this season and he is always a dangerous character when he does that because we know the rest of his game is always in good working order.
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These two men have met on 25 previous occasions with Mark Selby holding the edge with 14 wins to the 11 of Mark Williams. The frame count is a little more dominant in the Selby favour though with 134 in his favour to the 117 for the Welshman. These two men have met in four previous finals with each man walking away with the title in two of them. Selby has won the last four meetings between the two men and in their meetings of more than one session it is Williams who holds a 4-3 advantage overall.
It is good to see Mark Williams in another final but he might be coming up against his match in it because not only does Mark Selby look in great touch with his game at the minute but his record in finals is just incredible. It is like he sees the silverware in front of him and nobody is going to deny him the crown. Luca Brecel had to play some amazing snooker to do it at the World Championship and you sense Williams will need a relentless day of snooker to do it here.
In shorter races I think Williams is still very much capable of that, as we have seen quite often this week, but he has been helped by opponents weakening him against him the longer matches go on. That isn’t going to happen here. The longer this goes Selby will only get stronger and finals are more regular to him these days so I expect him to settle quicker. If there is a criticism of Williams, and it isn’t really one of those it is just a fact of life, it is that the longer a week goes on he just starts to fade a little, understandably at his age, so I just think this could be a few frames too far. I expect Selby to win a fairly competitive final.
Back M.Selby (-1.5 frames) to beat M.Williams for a 3/10 stake at 1.85 with Coral