Before dedicating the victory to his late father on the tragic death anniversary, Mark Selby was “choking up” during his victory over John Higgins at the Champion of Champions.
Selby has been open about the effect his father’s tragic death has had on his life. Additionally, it had been 23 years since Selby’s father David, who died of cancer when she was only 16 years old, had last been seen by Higgins.
In a touching victory over fellow four-time world champion Higgins in Bolton, the “Jester” allowed the waves of emotion to motivate him rather than limit his performance.
Higgins defeated Iranian Hossein Vafaei, while Selby defeated world seniors champion Lee Walker to set up the heavyweight contest.
And a combination of exquisite breaks and granite tactical play ensured his place in the last four of the prestigious event with a 6-4 triumph in an enthralling Monday evening battle.
Selby now has the opportunity to win for the first time since winning his fourth world championship at the Crucible in May of last year. If he lifts the trophy on Sunday night, he will also become the first person to ever win an ITV televised event.
After defeating Higgins, Selby admitted that he had wished the schedule had gone in his favour so that he wouldn’t have to go to the table on such a sensitive day.
“I could feel myself getting choked up,” he said. “Because I was giving everything out there. I was thinking if I win or lose I’ll leave everything out there. I did it for him today.”
He continued: “Tough day today for me. 23 years to the day when I lost my father. A tough day every day for me this one. When I knew I was going to be in the Champions of Champions, I knew the groups were going to be Monday to Thursday, and I was praying I just was not playing on Monday.
“But as it turns out I was so a tough day for that reason, but I am happy to be in the competition as well. I think about him every day, even though it has been 23 years, it feels like it is yesterday.
“It does not get any easier – you just have to learn to get used to it I suppose. I have coped with it okay at times and other times I have not coped with it as well. He would have wanted me to carry on playing – I am out there trying my hardest. Hopefully, I can make him proud.”