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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Mark Staniforth

Mark Selby out of World Championship after Yan Bingtao wins longest ever frame

PA Wire

Defending champion Mark Selby lost the longest frame in Crucible history as he crashed out of the World Snooker Championship against China’s Yan Bingtao.

Selby came off worst in an epic 22nd frame lasting 85 minutes and 22 seconds – comfortably eclipsing the previous mark of 79 and a half minutes set by Gary Wilson and Luca Brecel in 2019.

And a subsequent nerveless century by 22-year-old Yan completed a gruelling 13-10 success and sent him into a quarter-final clash with three-times champion Mark Williams.

Selby looked on the bright side, having entered the tournament having battled mental health concerns for much of the season and pulled out of the previous two tournaments in Turkey and Gibraltar.

“I’m proud of myself,” said Selby. “After really struggling and not enjoying the game, I came into this tournament not really knowing what to expect.

“I felt as though I was the better player for much of the match. It felt like my game was coming back a bit and I was enjoying it, so it’s positive going forward.”

Yan had built a two-frame lead heading into their concluding session and looked set to make short work of the champion when he won the first two frames in the evening to extend his lead to 11-7.

But Selby surged back to within one frame with consecutive breaks of 86, 117 and 88, setting up the ultimately crucial 22nd frame which Yan finally won after squeezing the black into the middle.

On a record-breaking day at the Crucible, Ronnie O’Sullivan earlier set two new marks after winning the solitary frame he needed to polish off a 13-4 win over Mark Allen and cruise into the last eight.

O’Sullivan’s 20th quarter-final place eclipses the previous best he shared with Stephen Hendry, while his 71st career win also took him clear for the number of matches won by a single player at the current venue.

Typically O’Sullivan, who is now favourite to match the Scot’s record of seven Crucible crowns next week, repeated his regular assertion that he has no interest in most of the plaudits that keep coming his way.

“It doesn’t mean anything to me,” insisted O’Sullivan. “They’re not the kinds of statistics that I’m proud of. The ones that I’m proud of are the majors and that’s about it really.”

Ronnie O’Sullivan returned to win one frame against Mark Allen (Ian Hodgson/PA) (PA Wire)

O’Sullivan had done all the hard work in the first two sessions of his match against Allen, making their return on Saturday a formality.

But he insisted the relatively effortless nature of his victory belied a tough battle to stay at the top of his game, invoking the example of martial arts superstar Bruce Lee.

“It comes down to quite a few years of practice and years of dedication and of trying to be the best version of yourself that you can possibly be,” added O’Sullivan.

“If you look at Bruce Lee, he trained for many hours, not just mentally but physically. We’re experts in different fields but I try to approach my sport in a way which is no different.

“It’s not easy – I really struggle with it, to be honest with you. Even when I steam-rollered everyone in 2012, it wasn’t easy. It is all about just playing to have fun, enjoy it and relish every moment even when it’s not going great.”

O’Sullivan will face Stephen Maguire in the quarter-finals after the 41-year-old Scot made the most of a borrowed cue to withstand a fightback from UK champion Zhao Xintong.

Stephen Maguire moved into the last eight at the Crucible (Ian Hodgson/PA) (PA Wire)

Maguire resumed the final session of their match two frames from victory but lost four of the first five on Saturday before a break of 59 saw him seal a 13-9 win over the Chinese seventh seed.

Neil Robertson fired two consecutive century breaks to haul himself level with Jack Lisowski at the end of the opening session of their second-round match.

Lisowski had won four frames in a row to turn a 2-0 deficit into a 4-2 lead, but the Australian dug deep to make it 4-4 ahead of their resumption on Sunday.

And a gruelling opening session between Judd Trump and Anthony McGill also ended all square, with each player scoring a century before McGill took the last of the day to keep the match in the balance.

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