Friday, 7 December 2012

Semi-final 2: Mark Selby v Mark Davis

Mark Selby has his eyes on the prize.

He needs a win against Mark Davis in the second UK Championship semi-final to regain his world number one ranking and reach his first final here.
Picture by Monique Limbos

The Jester is a big favourite with the bookmakers and the general public, but don't expect a walkover.

This contest pits two players together who have both showed their qualities at the Barbican this week, but are in very different places mentally.

Selby says he is suffering from an inability to get going in matches quickly because he doubts his game when he's out in the heat of the battle. This is remarkable for a player of Selby's quality, but reiterates how much of the game is played in the mind.

He found himself 4-0 down against Neil Robertson in his quarter-final match before finding a way to eek away at the lead and win six frames on the spin.

The comeback wasn't glamorous. It was a display of true grit as the match became a war of attrition.

Selby got his usual public bashing but take nothing away from him. I don't think there is any other player in the world who could have recovered from 4-0 down against a player of Robertson's class.

It was shear willpower and a sign of what he can do if he's up against it. We've seen that Selby can blow away his opponents when he starts quickly and scores heavily.

Picture by Monique Limbos
He isn't firing so easily this week but he deserves credit for still finding a way.

Davis is in a completely different place.

The Sussex man is enjoying a real purple patch on the baize right now - the best of his career.

This is his third major ranking event semi-final already this season and his form has recently seen him into the top 16 for the first time in his 21-year career.

The 40-year-old is playing with rich confidence boosted by his dramatic win against John Higgins earlier this week. He followed that up with victory against Matthew Stevens in the quarter-finals but insists he isn't thinking about lifting the trophy just yet.

Coming out on top against Selby is going to take a monumental effort, but why not? We haven't exactly been starved of shocks this week, so don't dismiss another.

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