Mark Selby admits he was inspired to claim a fourth world title in seven years by the Crucible boo boys who tried to noise him up in Sheffield.
Selby produced a trademark granite performance of tactical supremacy with an epic 18-15 win over fellow Englishman Shaun Murphy at the Crucible in May despite the majority of the crowd inside the 980-seat venue supporting his opponent.
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Apart from a smattering of fans allowed to witness Ronnie O'Sullivan's sixth world title triumph over Kyren Wilson with an 18-8 final victory last August, snooker has been played behind closed doors since it emerged from an enforced three-month lockdown due to the pandemic 14 months ago.
World number two Selby was delighted to welcome back an audience even if it meant having to contend with some vociferous Irish diehards roaring on Dublin-based Murphy.

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“It was amazing. We’ve had 12 to 15 months playing in front of nobody," said Selby, who has lifted the world title in 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2021 to join John Higgins as a four-times Crucible winner.
"All of a sudden, throughout the tournament we were getting more in and to get to the final and play in front of a full house was incredible. With the atmosphere the way it was, Shaun had quite a lot of support in. I think there was a lot of Irish fans in there.
At one stage before the night session I got booed, but if anything that inspired me even more. Whether they were drunk or just supporting Shaun I don’t know, but that inspired me.
“I see it as more of a challenge. It switches on your focus even more than normal. Every time I play Ronnie O’Sullivan it is the same sort of occasion. It will always be a full crowd and the majority will be on his side because of who he is and the way he plays. I always enjoy those occasions and I seem to play well. I think a lot of that is down to the occasion."

Raucous atmosphere as Selby and Murphy emerge for Crucible final

“The way Shaun came back made it tense," added Selby, who rolled in 12 centuries in carrying off his 20th ranking title since 2008, nine years after he turned professional.
"If he’d scrapped to win those frames from 17-13 it wouldn’t have been the same, but he made two centuries to make it 17-15. He looked like he was going to get back to 17-16 and he would have definitely been favourite if he’d won that frame.
I was fortunate that he took on a tough red. Every credit to him going for it in those circumstances, but I think I’d have played the percentages. Fortunately for me it didn’t go in and I held myself together to take the clearance out.
“I felt in my mind that with the way Shaun came back at me, if I didn’t clear up, that it would have been my only chance. The way Shaun was playing, he’d probably have capitalised. Also by me not clearing up he’d have gained confidence.
"Everything would have turned his way. I said to myself that this was my chance and that if I didn’t clear up that was it. I was trying extra hard. That moment at the end was more elation than anything else. I knew how hard that clearance was in the circumstances.”

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Selby will expect more favourable support when he faces Murphy over the best-of-five frames at the British Open at the Morningside Arena in his home city of Leicester at 7pm (BST) on Tuesday 17 August.
The pair – who are both coached by Chris Henry – were drawn together in the first round of a ranking event returning to the World Snooker Tour calendar for the first time since 2004 when it was carried off by Higgins with a 9-6 win over Stephen Maguire.
“It will be great at the British Open," said Selby on WST.
"Since I’ve been a professional, I’ve never known a main ranking event to be in Leicester like this, apart from the Championship League. For it to be my first tournament as World Champion, it will be a great feeling to walk out and play. Hopefully there will be a big crowd.
"I’ve experienced walking out as World Champion before, but it never gets stale. It will still feel as good as it did in the 2015 season after winning the 2014 World Championship. I’m looking forward to it. I’ve only just started practising in the last four or five days so I’m still a little bit rusty at the moment.”
Selby, 38, starts this campaign with the target of reclaiming the world number one position from 2019 world champion Judd Trump.

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He was ranked at the summit of the sport for a 49-month period between by 2015 and 2019 and is only £124,000 behind Trump after earning £500,000 for his world victory.
Claiming the £100,000 winner's cheque at the British Open would help his quest.
“That has always been one of my goals since I lost the number one position, to get it back. Judd was miles ahead of everyone and rightly so. He deserved his lead and number one spot," added Selby.

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"The prize money is so big at the Crucible that whoever wins will have a chance the following season. With me winning it, I am back in contention. I’m still a fair bit behind but if I can get off to a good start at the British Open it will help.”
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