But if you haven’t got your health, you can’t be out there playing anyway.”
Mark Selby celebrates after winning the final of the Dafabet World Snooker Championships.
Saturday 18 April 2015
Twelve months ago, Mark Selby was on top of the world after being crowned Crucible champion.
Since cueing off as a raw 16-year-old in the snooker halls of Leicester, Selby had finally reached the pinnacle of his sport after 15 years of hard graft.
“I have achieved everything I wanted to achieve. I do put a lot of pressure on myself in that way, anyway.
Just like every new parent, the arrival of a child suddenly brought clarity Selby’s perspectives.
“Shaun will definitely be in the running in Sheffield to become a world champion for a second time, he’s won three or four tournaments this season and is the form player.
“Your personal relationships, and your health, are more important than snooker alone.
He has suffered early exits in several tournaments, like the UK Championship and Masters, while 19-year-old Leeds rookie Oliver Lines caused a shock by ousting Selby in the qualifiers for the International Championship.
Selby finally found some form to reach the final of the German Masters, where he edged out good friend Shaun Murphy – the former Rotherham potter who tasted Crucible success in 2005 – in a thrilling final, 9-7.
“To be 8-1 up at the end of the first session probably wasn’t a fair reflection on how the match had gone, as a few frames could have gone either way but I managed to pinch them.
In a sport where O’Sullivan – who will be 40 in December – is still the man to beat, and players like John Higgins, 39, are competing at the highest level, age is no longer the barrier it once was.
“Being a dad has been great,” Selby told The Yorkshire Post. Winning at the Crucible was the final piece of the puzzle, having won the Masters and UK Championship previously.
“They are there to look up to. I have probably got another 10 years left.
“If you look at the likes of Stephen Hendry and O’Sullivan, they just wanted to keep winning, and that is my outlook on the game, too.
Germany was followed by another title overseas, when he beat fellow Englishman Gary Wilson 10-2 to win the China Open earlier this month.
“Look at John Higgins and O’Sullivan, they are in their late 30s, and are still competing at the top of their game,” said Selby.
“I seem to have found that this year,” said Selby. I started off a bit ropey, probably did feel the pressure of being world champion a little bit.
“I think it was a little bit of both.
On the table, it has been a mixed 12 months for the three-time Masters champion.
“Being a professional I am so competitive and want to win every game.”
“It’s not been too bad a year. This year I have managed to do that, not play in as many tournaments as I did in previous years.
“Being there at the birth of my daughter was the perfect feeling and nothing will top that.”
Selby said becoming a dad surpassed being crowned world champion “by a long way”.
“I played well for the majority of the match,” said Selby, after his Beijing success. If I stopped playing tomorrow, I would be happy.
“But while I am still playing and competing I want to win more.”
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“I did feel the pressure of being world champion at the start of the season. “It’s the first time I have experienced it. But that’s easier said than done.
“It was a relief winning in Germany, it got the monkey off my back by winning my first tournament as world champion,” he admitted.
“But then I managed to win the German Masters, which gave me some confidence back again. Having won the world title for the first time, that would be nice to win that again.
“Snooker, at the end of the day, is just a game to do well in. If you try and play in every tournament, your time at home is very limited.”
“Whether that’s because they see me as a bigger scalp being world champion or something, I don’t know.”
“I have gained a lot of confidence from it, but then put added pressure on myself, which I probably didn’t need to.
“We don’t get much time at home to just switch off,” he admitted. To come out the other side and win in Germany was a great feeling, especially beating Shaun Murphy, who is probably one of the form players this year.
“Was that why I was under-performing? Or was I trying too hard?
Aged 31, Selby has the potential to play at the top level for another decade.
“I just want to win more titles. Overall, it’s not been drastic, but not fantastic either.
“It was nice to try and spend a little bit of time at home. “Unless, that is, you can start picking and choosing your tournaments which you play in. “I am playing players who are trying, not trying harder because they try to win anyway, but they are performing at a higher level against me.
“I have won the Masters three times, but it would be great to win that again. Selby has tried to juggle snooker’s global Tour with spending time with his family.
But being the current world champion and a new father has meant the 31-year-old is constantly in demand.
“With the expectation I was placing on myself, I was thinking ‘am I putting too much pressure on myself?’
“I know that if I do play to my capabilities, then I know what I am capable of
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