World Championships: Mark Selby 'felt pressure' after 2014 win

Mark Selby
Mark Selby joined the professional snooker tour in 1999 aged 16 and reached his first ranking final three years later
World Championship
Venue: Crucible Theatre, Sheffield Dates: 18 April-4 May
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Defending champion Mark Selby admits it took him months before he was able to come to terms with winning last year's World Championship.

Selby staged a superb comeback to beat Ronnie O'Sullivan 18-14 in the 2014 final and claim his first title.

The 31-year-old begins the defence of his crown at 10:00 BST on Saturday.

"I have felt the pressure of being world champion. I felt if I didn't play well people would question why I was world champion," he said.

"I felt as though I had to go out and perform my A game every time.

"It took a long while, months, for the fact that I'd done it to sink in. It is every snooker player's dream as they start out to become world champion and I did that."

Selby, mind also preoccupied by becoming a father for the first time, failed to win another ranking title until beating Shaun Murphy in the final of the German Masters in February.

He followed that with victory last week in the China Open, where he beat fellow Englishman Gary Wilson in the final.

Mark Selby and Ronnie O'Sullivan
Selby dethroned five-time world champion Ronnie O'Sullivan in the final last year

"The first few tournaments after last year's success, I did feel the pressure," he said.

"Thankfully I've won in Germany and China, which has given me a lot of confidence and taken a little bit of pressure off going back to Sheffield."

Selby - who lost to John Higgins in the World Championship final in 2007 - says he "cannot wait" to walk out at the Crucible as champion, but is aware that no first-time winner has ever successfully defended their title.

"There is a curse over first-time winners and it is going to be difficult," he said. "But all I can do is try my best.

"The reason it is a great tournament is because it is so difficult to win.

"I'll be emotional and nervous when I walk out as defending champion on Saturday, but hopefully the nerves will inspire me and I'll play better."

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