UK Championship: Mark Selby 'close to his best' after having 'confidence zapped'

Mark Selby in action
Mark Selby won the UK Championship in 2012 and 2016

Two-time UK Championship winner Mark Selby says he is getting back to his best after a "frustrating" 2018-19.

Selby, 36, lost his world number one ranking to Judd Trump last season and went out early in both the UK Championship and World Championship.

He won the English Open and reached two further ranking semi-finals this term.

"Last season my confidence was zapped a bit," said Selby, who plays Liam Highfield in the second round at this year's UK Championship.

"Even though I was playing OK in patches, I was coming up against players playing better than me and sometimes you just have to hold your hands up and say 'well played'. It is frustrating.

"But I played very close to my best in the English Open. A lot of hard work seems to be paying off.

"I am definitely going in the right direction."

'New territory'

Selby was a first-round loser against James Cahill in York last season, but a convincing 6-0 winner against Andy Hicks in this year's opening round on Wednesday.

"I was a bit ropey at the start, a little bit edgy which is understandable because it's a big tournament," Selby said. "And in the past couple of years I haven't really done that great here.

"This is new territory for me, getting to the second round and the TV stage. Of course it's in the back of your mind."

The Leicester potter said Trump's wonderful form and rise to world number one brings a fear factor for those he faces.

"It does count for a lot and carries a lot of weight," Selby said.

"People go into matches against Judd, and against me when I was world number one and world champion, thinking 'it's a tough draw, he's won this and won that', so it does put a little bit of extra pressure on.

"But when you are in your seat, it doesn't matter who you are; you can't do anything from your chair.

"It is no surprise what he is achieving now. I have seen him since he was nine or 10 years old and he was just one for stardom. He was always going to achieve what he wanted to achieve if he put the work in."

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