Snooker

'Cold' – Mark Allen sizzles in red-hot Milton Keynes to burn Mark Selby hopes at Tour Championship

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Mark Allen | Snooker | ESP Player Feature

Image credit: Getty Images

ByEurosport
26/06/2020 at 08:03 | Updated 26/06/2020 at 09:03

Mark Allen will face his good friend Stephen Maguire in the Tour Championship final after destroying an off-form Mark Selby 9-2 in the semi-finals.

The 2018 Masters champion had been beaten in his past six ranking event semi-finals, but stopped the rot by overcoming three-times world champion Selby, who struggled to cope with the conditions and a rampant opponent behind closed doors at the Marshall Arena.

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Northern Irishman Allen will face Scotland's 2004 UK champion Maguire over the best-of-19 frame final on Friday.

"I'm not getting carried away," said Allen, who watched 2005 world champion Shaun Murphy make six centuries in their quarter-final yet still won 9-8 on Tuesday.

"I came here to win the tournament – I'm only two thirds of the way there.

"It's been two very good wins, two very different games, but two good performances.

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"Mark didn't pot a ball for the first four frames and not many people can do that to Mark Selby. I think he was just cold.

"He had a couple of chances in frame five, but he didn't have a shot really. I just put him under pressure early on."

World number 14 Maguire is bidding to win his first ranking event since the 2013 Welsh Open and could land £250,000 if he claims the title on Friday – a £150,000 first prize and a £100,000 bonus for topping the money list over the three events sponsored by Coral, the World Grand Prix, the Players Championship and the Tour Championship.

If he fails to claim the title he only trousers £60,000 – leaving world champion and world number one Trump £100,000 richer due to the bonus.

"There is a lot on the line tomorrow with two good mates going at it," added Allen.

"We'll have one or two drinks tonight, take it easy and will probably start the banter early, but whenever it comes match time we'll both be switched on.

"We're both the ultimate competitors, we're both fierce and fiery competitors. May the best man win. We'll have a drink tomorrow night whatever happens and celebrate the winner and commiserate the loser."

Selby failed to register in the first four frames as breaks of 92, 54, 76 and 80 saw five-times ranking event winner Allen race 4-0 clear with an average shot time of 17 seconds that left him in command of proceedings all day long.

Despite a timely 71 from Selby in the ninth frame, Allen secured victory with a closing 82 in a display that demonstrates the need for strong matchplay skills at the top level.

Maguire has been as impressive as Allen in reaching the final courtesy of commanding wins over world number two Neil Robertson – where he hit six centuries in a 9-5 win – and Trump, who like Selby appeared to toil with the conditions of summer snooker.

This will be Allen's first ranking event final since he overcame Murphy 9-7 to lift the Scottish Open final in 2018 – and you wonder why he hasn't been winning events on this form. He is also up to a career-highest ranking of number four in the world.

With conditions outside tipping a baking 32.0C, Allen averaged three balls potted to only one from Selby over the 11 frames, no laughing matter for the man dubbed 'The Jester from Leicester' after such a one-sided rout.

Selby has over a month to regroup before the delayed World Championship begins at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield on 31 July.

"I thought Mark played brilliant," said Selby. "I didn't feel great in my game, but that is down to Mark obviously. He put the pressure on me from the word go.

"No way in the world did I deserve to win today. Mark was the better player – and I thought his long game was exceptional."

Tour Championship draw

Quarter-finals (best of 17 frames)

(All sessions start at 1:30pm and 7pm BST)

  • Neil Robertson 5-9 Stephen Maguire (Saturday)
  • Judd Trump 9-4 John Higgins (Sunday)
  • Mark Selby 9-6 Yan Bingtao (Monday)
  • Shaun Murphy 8-9 Mark Allen (Tuesday)

Semi-finals (best of 17 frames)

  • Stephen Maguire 9-6 Judd Trump (Wednesday)
  • Mark Selby 2-9 Mark Allen (Thursday)

Final (best of 19 frames)

  • Stephen Maguire v Mark Allen (Friday)
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