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Snooker UK Championships: World number 1 Mark Selby crashes out to underdog Scott Donaldson

Match report by our snooker correspondent Josh Dykes. York Barbican, 2nd December 2017

Selby started strong against the young Donaldson (ranked 66th) from Perth in Scotland in the opening frame. A strong looking initial break of 29 led to compromised but clever safety behind the yellow from a shot which left the white tied up against the cushion. A quick error coming out of this by the Scotsman let Selby demonstrate his world-class ability to comfortably clean up almost the whole table, sailing him into a 1-nil lead.

Mark Selby (photo by Josh Dykes)

The second frame began slower with Donaldson’s early nerves appearing to have steeled themselves as a quick break of 14 brought on a tactical safety stalemate between the two with both players displaying their vast skill however it was difficult to ignore a resounding thought that the break of 14 should have been built much stronger.

A stunning red into the top right corner broke the rising tension from Mark Selby who built up to 25 with elegance however he fell short on luck executing a skilful canon to break the rest of the pack but was left with only the thinnest of hopes to continue the break.

 

The key shot was a red into the bottom corner followed by a pink to the middle that built his tally up to 51 which lead to Donaldson needing a snooker to win. In all, the scrappy second frame was cleared up quickly and concluded with Selby racing towards the required 6 frames.

A much stronger start from Donaldson who commanded dominance in the third frame. He pushed a cannon shot into a pot which simultaneously spread the last 4 red balls that had held a stubbornness in the initial pack and pushed him through a half-century break. A slight distraction from the crowd commending skill on the other tables ended the frame prematurely but Donaldson was not worried at all – hammering in a break of 88 to finish with the score at 2 frames to 1.

With his first frame on the board, the 23-year-old Scotsman started strong again, but luck did not side with him in having the black needing to be spotted on the yellow position. Donaldson’s break of 20 was halted due to a slight lack of concentration on his part, however, he resumed later with the world number one failing to score.

Scott Donaldson, ranked 66th. Photo by Josh Dykes

With the black back in play and the reds spread out beautifully, the frame was only Donaldson’s to lose. Having learned from his previous errors his head became steady and his concentration became acute due to a slight scare with a jaw-wobbling black to the bottom corner.

An infuriating black to the opposite corner of his previous scare left Mark with a glimmer of hope but just like his opponent, he fell short on a black to the bottom corner. Safety shots ensued with Selby needing two snookers to take the match to 3-1 at the mid-session interval with a single red left on the table.

Two counter snookers from Scott left Selby shooting the whole length of the table to surpass the 3 low-value colour balls and the second required swerve. Both were executed successfully; however the second shot left the last red available. A gentle roll into the bottom corner was that was needed by Donaldson, leaving the match at 2 frames each going into the mid-session interval.

In the players’ lounge, Mark was slotting in balls from one end of the practice table to the other without hesitation or exception. Scott stood further away from the attention, composed and calculated. Now, with the 5th frame underway, it is shocking to see how the supposedly easy black balls from the fourth frame were missed under pressure yet without it, they are sunk on the practice as if it was second nature.

With the second round match continuing, both players seem to be on a comfortable medium with each having scored 221 points during that match at the halfway point during the frame. The world number 66, Donaldson pulled out a slim lead which he supported up to a generous 51 but he fell short, catching the pink covering the line to the pocket for his next red.

Much to both players frustration, there was another substantial period where safety shots had to be played but a pinpoint red from Selby helped to liven the game. It was a shame no colour was available to pot.

It seemed Selby’s quick long pot practice in the player’s lounge during the 10-minute interval paid dividends as another red fell into the bottom with simple, clean accuracy. Yet again the frame-winning opportunity did not arise with Mark having to take a seat after just a short break of 7.

A pivotal point in the frame occurred with Donaldson sitting at 59 points, 27 in front of Selby with a hopeful 27 left on the table but a disastrous error left a trailing white to knock the pink in the middle pocket which left the defending champion trailing as he conceded the frame.

Frames 6 and 7 featured had very little drama, Selby Demonstrated why he is the reigning champion pounding in a score of 87 levelling the score but Donaldson held his own respectively against the world number one with a highlight break of 90 to take the match up to 4 frames to 3 in his favour.

It seemed as if the underdog was going to shoot high again but his break was stunted with an awkward plant that left his break at 77. However the odds were stacked too high and Selby gave a subtle nod to the referee to submit leaving Scott with just one frame to win to cause the biggest upset of the season knocking out the second favourite of the tournament.

Donaldson had clearly caused quite a storm against ‘The Jester From Leicester’ as Selby’s break shot almost left the white to drop into the bottom corner pocket. In the final frame, Selby was yet to score and with Donaldson’s tally quickly climbing, the remaining red balls were spread across the table as if they had been set up by hand. The frame and match finished decisively – Scott Donaldson progresses to round 3, 6 frames to 3 with a final break of 84 against the defending title holder and world number 1.

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