China Open: Mark Selby beats Mark Williams 10-8 ahead of World Championship
World number one Mark Selby beat Mark Williams 10-8 in a tight China Open final to leave the Welshman needing to qualify for the World Championship.
Selby started well with two centuries to lead 3-1 but Williams produced 106 to be 5-4 down at the interval.
Neither man held a two-frame lead after the restart until Selby closed out after a fine 124 break to move 9-8 up.
Defeat means Williams' compatriot Ryan Day stays in the world's top-16 and qualifies for the World Championship.
Victory for Williams would have moved him from 22 in the world into the top-16 and offered an automatic place in the draw for the tournament in Sheffield, which starts on 15 April.
The two-time champion will now have to win three best-of-19-frame preliminary matches in the qualifying event at Ponds Forge in Sheffield from 5-12 April if he is to be in the 32-man draw for the Crucible.
The draw for qualifying takes place on Sunday night and those in it will dream of emulating Selby, who since winning the tournament for the second time last year, has maintained fine form.
Victory in Beijing - where he walked away with an £85,000 first prize - was his fourth ranking tournament success of the season, his previous best campaign coming in 2014-15 with two wins. He will head to the World Championships with a tightened grip on the world number one spot, with Judd Trump in second.
Williams, who has not won a ranking event since the 2011 German Masters, may look to the fourth frame as key. Trailing 2-1, he potted the opening red but brushed the brown with his cue, allowing Selby to take to the table and move 3-1 up with a 106 break.
It was not until frame 13 that Williams held a lead. Selby hauled level with a break of 95 and though Williams again edged 8-7 ahead, Selby's clearance of 70 tied at 8-8.
The Jester from Leicester delivered three centuries in all, his 124 in the penultimate frame key as he prepared for his world title defence by winning the 11th ranking title of his career.
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