Mark Selby 13-11 John Higgins: Defending champion recovers ahead of mammoth final session

Mark Selby showed his class once again as he put a difficult opening two sessions behind him to lead against John Higgins in the 2017 World Championship final.

Selby recovers after disappointing start on day one

After such a dramatic finale to proceedings in the second session, the opening frame of the third was likely to be crucial to the confidence of both players. Selby was the man to continue the form he had dug deep to find the evening before and overcame a series of challenging pots to go within one frame of Higgins.

After a remarkable start to the second saw over 20 balls nestle into the top half of the table, Selby soon reduced Higgins' early advantage to just one as he made an important 40 around the baulk colours when the Scotsman missed an early long pot.

With five consecutive frames to his name, Selby well and truly had Higgins on the ropes and appeared to be closing in on drawing level only for the reigning champion to make a shock miss on the black. It opened the table to Higgins and he made a crucial break of 78 to stop the rot. A series of tight, tactical battles bestowed the final frame before the interval and Selby jumped on a Higgins miss on the yellow to go into the break just 10-11 behind.

Session brought to an abrupt end to halt Selby momentum

Selby came out flying after the break with an excellent 67 to finally draw level as Higgins could not find the snookers required to snatch the frame. The Scotsman was finding himself sinking deeper into a rut, as a second bite at the cherry resulted in Selby making 58 and winning his eighth of the last nine frames.

Higgins was desperate for the session to draw to a close and after passing the 5:15pm cut-off time it became clear that frame 24 was going to be the last, two short of the allotted amount. A break of 72 from Selby ensured that he held a lead going into the final session, turning a 10-7 deficit into a 13-11 advantage.