COMEBACK king Mark Selby is praying he doesn’t have to conjure yet another remarkable fightback in today’s williamhill.com UK Championship semi-final against Mark Davis.
The world number two has been like Lazarus this week at the Barbican – repairing from 3-0 down against Ryan Day in the second round and coming back from the dead against Neil Robertson in the last eight.
Selby trailed 4-0 in that latter match but somehow managed to claw his way back into the contest before clinching an improbable victory 6-4 with a century.
Disappointed at how he seems to need to be on the brink of defeat before being able to find some form, Selby said he has to get to the bottom of what is causing him to flatline at the beginning of his matches.
“If I can figure out what it is that is getting me off to a slow start – I don’t know what I keep doing – I would be dangerous if I could get off to a good start,” he said.
“I think it is definitely mental. I just seem to freeze. I wish I could start the match after the interval – come out after the interval and I’d be all right.
“I just need to relax a bit more. The trouble with me is I want to win so badly I probably just try too hard.”
He added: “When I am playing on top of my game I know I am capable of winning any tournament I play in. I know how well I am cueing in practice and it’s only because of doubt and not trusting myself.
“A lot of the time I go out there and don’t seem to play my own game and a lot of the time it is frustration and giving myself a kick up the backside.”
Selby will be wary of a resurgent Davis and, on his opponent’s brilliant form over the last couple of years, which has taken him into the top 16 at the age of 40, he joked: “He’s great for me. I’m only 29 so I’ve still got 11 years left if that’s the case.
“The last year and a half to two years, Mark has been performing. He has always been a great player and never really took it out there on the TV and the match table. He seems to be doing that now and he is obviously a dangerous opponent.
“I’ve been there before (one table) but if I keep starting off like I have, the way Mark is playing, it could be a thrashing.
“I’ll look forward to it, have a couple of practice sessions, get as much rest as possible, and come back fresh.”
Robertson, despite the disappointment of losing from such a commanding position, said of Selby: “He’s been struggling for confidence for a long time and I can’t remember the last time he was in the semis of a big tournament.
“He probably feels as though he threw away the number one spot having had such a big lead and losing early in a lot of the tournaments this year.
“He loves winning and he has probably not won as many tournaments as he would like. He would probably admit he gets to a lot of semi-final stages and hasn’t got the job done.
“He’s really determined this week to make sure he does.”
Selby would return to the world number one spot if he makes the final, but Robertson believes the Leicester potter – who is still to win the UK or the worlds – will be determined to add the title to justify that landmark.
He added: “If you are number one and you are not winning big tournaments you are going to have this feeling of ‘Am I really good enough to be here?’”