Dear Mark Selby,
Congratulations on winning your semi-final match against Neil Robertson. It was a hard fought battle spanning over 11 hours which looked as though it would go right down to the wire at 12-12. But you held your nerve and demonstrated your patience, tactics, stamina and determination to prevail 17-15 in yet another Crucible classic.
Your prize is a World Championship best of 35 frame final against the reigning champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, who is aiming for a third consecutive world title to equal Steve Davis on six on the all-time list. This is your second bite at the cherry, having lost the 2007 final to John Higgins. Hopefully you can pop Ronnie’s cherry by becoming the first man to beat him in the final.
Let’s assess the story so far. Ronnie has not been suitably challenged throughout the championship. Robin Hull, no contest. Joe Perry, great effort but did he really believe? Shaun Murphy, mentally imploded. Barry Hawkins, exhausted from his quarter final and had absolutely no run of the ball whatsoever.
The point is, Ronnie has not been at his best because he has not had to be. This is of course brilliant news for the Rocket, to know that he has nonetheless been finding a way to win relatively comfortably.
The issue for his competitors is that they have been changing the way they play against him. They are intimidated by him and fear him. As a result, they make the wrong shot choice and miss easy balls. This is all because of their mentality and, ultimately, they succumb to the snowball effect of their negative thinking. Consequently, Rocket Ronnie runs off laughing having won, arguably, by default.
Don’t let this happen in the final, Mark. Ronnie has graciously referred to you as ‘a predator’ and knows that you have what it takes to beat him.
During the week Stephen Hendry tweeted ‘Somebody step up’. Yes, well, the only somebody left is you Mark Selby. Make the man sweat at least. Wind him up. Grind him down. Go Peter Ebdon on his ass…he’ll hate that. Snooker him for the laugh. Contest every frame no matter how many snookers are required. And most importantly, punish him when he makes a mistake. Because he does make mistakes. Seize your opportunities.
Ronnie is not invincible and he has not been in the greatest form of his career this season. What is there to fear? Absolutely nothing. Your head-to-head against him in finals stands at 3-3.
You have battled your way through the tougher half of the draw and demonstrated your mental strength, advanced snooker mindset and match play ability. You are World Champion material. The opportunity awaits you to achieve Snooker’s Triple Crown.
Best of luck,
On behalf of the world of snooker fans hoping to see a high quality and immensely competitive final…as we’ll never get the ratings back to 18.5 million if someone doesn’t grow a pair and rival the Rocket.
The final commences at 2pm Sunday and the winner will be crowned on Monday.
Pundit Arena, Tina McCarthy.
Featured Image By DerHexer (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.