World Snooker Championship: Mark Selby reaches the final
|2016 World Snooker Championship final|
|Venue: The Crucible Theatre, Sheffield Dates: 1-2 May|
|Coverage: Live on BBC 2 from 14:00 BST on Sunday.|
World number one Mark Selby displayed all his renowned battling qualities to overcome Marco Fu 17-15 and book his place in the World Championship final against Ding Junhui.
The 2014 winner struggled throughout, but seemed buoyed for the evening session after winning the longest frame in Crucible history to tie at 12-12.
Selby never again trailed after an epic frame lasting 76 minutes 11 seconds.
And he held his nerve in an error-strewn finale to reach Sunday's final.
Ding had earlier completed an impressive 17-11 win over fellow qualifier Alan McManus to become the first Asian player to reach snooker's showpiece event.
However, Fu's failure to capitalise on Selby's struggles during the opening three sessions ultimately cost him the chance of making the best-of-35 frame final an all-Asian affair.
Selby fends off Fu challenge
The titanic 24th frame, which beat the previous record of 74 minutes and 58 seconds set by Mark King and Stephen Maguire in 2009, finally seemed to spark both men into life.
Thankfully the dreary and bumbling nature of the morning session gave way to much-improved evening fare.
Selby led three times, scoring a half-century and a ton on the way, while Fu hit three half-centuries and his fourth ton of the match to stay in touch and then draw level at 15-15.
The main talking point up until then was not the impressive break-building, but an incident in which Fu seemed to brush a red ball with his hand when bridging to strike the cue ball.
The world number 14 did not declare a foul and referee Brendan Moore did not see it, but it remained an issue on social media where it divided opinion.
"I haven't got a clue what shot you are talking about it. Obviously I did [touch it] but I honestly can't feel it," said Fu.
Selby, who is now in his third Crucible final, went on to win the frame with a break of 63, and he clinched victory in frame 32 - another hour-plus tactical epic - thanks to a brilliant snooker on the final brown.
"For three sessions I was really poor and more or less hanging on to Marco's coat-tails," said Selby.
"When Marco was in, it looked like an art - and when I was in, it was more like a scribble.
"I need to play better than that."
First Asian finalist
China's Ding Junhui created history in the other semi-final when he became the first Asian player to reach the final.
The qualifier took three of the four frames played on Saturday to beat Scotland's Alan McManus 17-11. His seven century breaks was a record for the most centuries in a Crucible match.
McManus, 45, was the oldest player to reach a semi-final since Ray Reardon in 1985.
The Scot could not match his opponent's ruthless form as Ding, watched by 27.1% of China's national TV audience, wrapped up his seventh win since beginning his qualifying campaign against Greg Casey on 9 April.
Ding will be the first qualifier to contest the final since Judd Trump was beaten by John Higgins in 2011.
"I would probably put Ding as a slight favourite," said Fu. "All the Asian snooker fans will support him and it would be great if he won it. He can handle the pressure."