World number one Mark Selby is aiming to win a hat-trick of World Championships after lifting the crown in 2014 and 2016. Yet the reigning Champion believes this year could be harder than ever to run out victorious at the Crucible.
"So many players are capable of winning"
Speaking to the media at the World Championship press conference, the Jester from Leicester suggested "it is an open competition this year, so many players are capable of winning".
Selby later added "it is so tough to win. You get to the semi-finals and think you have done the hard work but then have to win 17 frames before another 18 in the final. So really you are only halfway there".
Selby hinted that a third title will be just as exciting as winning the previous two. When asked if the second meant as much as the first he explained "they both meant just as much. When you win the World Championship it is just an amazing feeling".
Another excellent season for Selby
The 11-time ranking event winner has enjoyed his most successful season on the circuit this year. He reached five finals, coming home with four of them, as he was crowned Paul Hunter Classic, International Championship, UK Championship and China Open champion. It means Selby will finish the season as World number one for the sixth time whether he is successful at the Crucible or not.
Selby and the other top 15 players in the World barely had time to breathe on a busy media day ahead of the first game on Saturday when the reigning champion begins his defence against Fergal O'Brien. A press conference was followed by individual interviews and then a special evening celebrating 40 years at the Crucible concluded coverage.
Selby will be looking for a third title but with multi-champions Ronnie O'Sullivan and John Higgins in with a chance and numerous others including Judd Trump and Ding Junhui hunting a maiden title, all the ingredients are prepared for the most exciting tournament yet.