Phil Haigh ✍️
Mark Selby won the English Open on Sunday night in emotional fashion, picking up his first piece of silverware since revealing his struggles with mental health at the start of the year.
The four-time world champion beat Luca Brecel 9-6 at Brentwood to lift the title, capping off an impressive return to form which saw him pick up a rousing win over Neil Robertson in the semis.
It has been a quiet year for Selby, who announced that he has been struggling with poor mental health after an early exit from the Masters in January.
He would go on to take a break from the sport before the World Championship, but he has slowly been returning to form and his game, but more importantly his mind, is now in a much better place, which was evident this week in Essex.
Selby was in tears after the match and paid an emotional tribute to wife Vicky who has been integral to his recovery, while he classes this return to success as a bigger achievement than his four world titles.
‘I think this probably has to go down as the biggest achievement for me,’ Selby told Eurosport. ‘From where I was back in January, I’ve been suffering for a few years silently, only Vicky and my close family really know.
‘It’s been tough, since January trying to get myself back on my feet has not been easy. It’s probably been the biggest challenge of my life.
‘To be out here, playing snooker and enjoying it again, it’s all I ever wanted to do. To come out and win a tournament is incredible really.
‘Obviously Vicky, there’s not enough words out there that I can say about her. If it wasn’t for her, I definitely wouldn’t be stood here today, that’s for sure.’
He added in the studio: ‘Because of where I’ve been, I’ve been to the well and back.
‘I felt terrible out there because I didn’t really mention Luca, who’s a great talent and a great player.
‘As I said, if it wasn’t for Vicky being there for everything. She’s probably gone through it worse than me because she doesn’t know what to do or what to say with what I was going through. But if it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t be sat here now, I’d be long gone.’
Brecel enjoyed a fine run to the final in Essex, beating Judd Trump and Mark Allen along the way, despite nearly pulling out of the event due to illness.
The Belgian Bullet was disappointed to lose, but he was delighted for Selby and glad to see the Jester from Leicester coming back to his best after a dreadful time for him.
‘I’d like to say well done to Mark, you can see he’s emotional. He’s obviously been through a very tough time off the table,’ said Brecel.
‘It’s so nice for him to speak about it openly, about depression. It’s great to see him back and he really deserves it. He’s got a great family as well, it’s really nice for them.’
The match itself was level after the afternoon session at 4-4 but, despite some serious attacking intent from Brecel and two centuries in the evening, Selby was too strong.
It is his first piece of silverware since he became world champion for the fourth time in 2021.
Selby has been very open about his struggles and how he has been working with a doctor to help him get back to good health in his mind.
He spoke out to help improve things for him, but also to help others understand and relate to him if they are feeling the same way. Hopefully lifting the English Open trophy will be a boost to him and any others who will see him as an inspiration to get over their problems.
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