World Championship 2017: John Higgins leads Mark Selby in Crucible final

By Shamoon HafezBBC Sport at the Crucible Theatre
World Championship final 2017
Venue: Crucible Theatre, Sheffield Dates: 30 April-1 May
Coverage: Watch live on BBC Two, online and BBC Sport app.
Times: Sessions at 14:00 and 19:00 BST

John Higgins secured a 10-7 lead over defending champion Mark Selby on day one of the World Championship final at the Crucible Theatre.

Scotland's four-time champion made a superb 141 clearance - the joint-highest break in a world final - on his way to taking a commanding 10-4 lead.

World number one Selby finally found his form and breaks of 121 and 81 helped him win the last three frames.

The best-of-35 final resumes on Monday at 14:00 BST and is live on BBC Two.

The 41-year-old Higgins, who beat Selby in the 2007 final, is aiming to become the oldest winner since 45-year-old Welshman Ray Reardon triumphed in 1978.

Two-time champion Selby, 33, is bidding to become only the fourth player - after Stephen Hendry, Steve Davis and Ronnie O'Sullivan - to win consecutive world titles in the modern era.

Higgins dominates weary Selby

The two players had contrasting semi-final victories as Selby edged through with a thrilling 17-15 victory over Ding Junhui, while Higgins enjoyed a comfortable 17-8 win over Barry Hawkins.

There were expectations beforehand that the match would be a battle between two players who specialise in tenacious, matchplay snooker, but it featured nine breaks over 50, plus two centuries.

Despite opening the final with breaks of 76 and 62, Selby looked weary following his semi-final exertions, missing straightforward pots when presented with opportunities in the reds.

A missed red in the seventh frame will have been of particular concern, as the Englishman was 54-1 ahead but instead allowed Higgins to clear up with a composed break of 58.

Higgins claimed five frames in a row, knocking in contributions of 63, 95 and 58, as well as his superb 141 ,which equalled O'Sullivan's effort in 2012 as the best break recorded in a World Championship final.

Selby revival restores hope

Selby looked to be on his way to a crushing first-day deficit, but in typical fashion managed to fight back to stay in the contest.

He had runs of 86 and 81 in the second session, but Higgins took a tactical exchange to go five frames ahead. However, he did miss a pink to the middle pocket with the reds open, as Selby responded to obtain some much-needed joy.

Higgins guaranteed himself an overnight lead by pinching the 13th and followed up with 76 to further extend his advantage.

But Selby somehow produced a late revival to keep himself in touch.

'A nice lead to have'

Seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry on BBC Two

For the next few hours John will be very disappointed because he's so experienced and knows frames can make a difference come tomorrow night.

Once he's got over that initial disappointment, 10-7 is a nice lead to have.

'Astonishing reply from Selby'

Six-time world champion Steve Davis on BBC Two

There will be loads of adrenaline pumping for both players, each for different reasons. It's been a fascinating second session. I think by the end of the night they'll have cleared their minds of all of that.

It was just an astonishing standard by the world champion and world number one in those final three frames. He's superb. You'd expect it, but for a minute there it didn't look like it was going to happen because John Higgins had him on the ropes.

Frame scores

Mark Selby (Eng) 7-10 John Higgins (Sco)

First session: 76-34 (76), 7-50, 121-8 (62, 58), 0-141 (141), 40-99 (63), 1-126 (95), 54-59 (58), 33-68 6-2 Higgins

Second session: 86-0 (86), 8-60, 44-74, 69-22, 1-68, 0-76 (76), 81-9 (81), 121-12 (121), 96-17 10-7 Higgins

Highest break so far: Higgins 141; Selby 121


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