Shivering Mark Selby slammed the worst table he’s played on as a professional and battled through the cold to reach the English Open semi-finals, writes Will Jennings.
The three-time king of the Crucible edged past China’s Zhou Yuelong 5-2 in the last eight on Friday after winning a late-night epic against Iran’s Hossein Vafaei the previous day.
The defending champion criticised the ‘terrible’ table after beating world No.39 Vafaei 4-3 before hitting out at the temperature of the Marshall Arena during his match against Zhou.
Selby remained ice cool to reach his 49th ranking event semi-final but blasted the conditions and says he would have been warmer if the match was played outside.
After his match against Vafaei, the 37-year-old fumed: “The table we played on was probably the worst table I’ve played on since I was a professional.
Last time someone won the first two ranking events of the season?@SHendry775 in 1️⃣9️⃣9️⃣0️⃣!@markjesterselby is two wins away from doing so, but it wouldn't be 'equalling' Hendry's record. Sorry, Mark! 🤣 #HomeNations #EnglishOpen pic.twitter.com/z7GSSYZNGP— World Snooker Tour (@WeAreWST) October 16, 2020
“It was dead, the bed of the table wasn’t really reactive and every cushion was coming off at weird angles.
“It was terrible, absolutely terrible. One minute you’ve got a good chance and the next you’re out of position through no fault of your own.
“The good thing is I can say it now I’ve won - if you say it when you lose it looks like sour grapes, but it was terrible.”
After his win against Zhou, the world No.4 added; “It was freezing and it wasn’t enjoyable out there.
“You’d might as well have put the table outside! It was incredible.
“There’s no excuse to be out there and for it to be that cold. Once your hands are freezing you can’t really play as you lose the feeling on certain shots.
“It wasn’t enjoyable but it was just a matter of getting to five first, which I managed to do.
“Hopefully they’ll do something about it and it will be a bit better tomorrow - we can have a whip round and get a bit of heating put on!”
A World Snooker spokesperson responded to Selby’s claims, saying they boosted the temperature of the venue after hearing complaints and that it takes time for the effect of the heating to kick in.
They also stated the outdoor temperature had declined in recent days, perfect conditions are always strived for and they will take Selby’s criticism of the playing surface on board.
The Jester from Leicester crafted breaks of 84 and 56 against Vafaei to book a date with Zhou before hitting four fifty-plus visits against the Chinese.
No one has won the first two ranking events of the season since Stephen Hendry in 1990. Mark Selby now two wins away from doing that. Into the English Open semis.— David Hendon (@davehendon) October 16, 2020
Selby reigned supreme at last month’s European Masters and is bidding to become the first player to win the season’s first two ranking events since the great Stephen Hendry back in 1990.
And the 18-time ranking event winner reckons that statistic epitomises just how competitive the sport is.
“That just shows how hard snooker is - it doesn’t matter how well you’re playing, sometimes you can go to a tournament, feel like you’re playing the best you’ve ever played and just get shut out,” he added.
“To try and defend any tournament is difficult but to try and win consecutive tournaments one after the other is even harder.”