Mark Selby began the defence of his Betfred World Championship title with a 10-7 defeat of Jamie Jones, as he returned to competitive action after a six-week break.
Selby made three centuries in an impressive performance as he took the first step towards his goal of a fifth Crucible crown since 2014. He was briefly under pressure when Jones recovered from 8-3 to 8-6, but passed the test to add the two frames he needed, setting up a last 16 meeting with Yan Bingtao or Chris Wakelin.
Leicester’s Selby continues to have treatment for the mental health struggles he revealed earlier this year, but on the baize the 38-year-old looked focussed on the challenge as he avoided a potential opening day banana skin against a dangerous opponent in Jones.
Trailing 6-3 after the first session, Jones had a chance to clear from 55-0 down in the opening frame tonight, but in potting the final green he sent the cue-ball into a centre pocket. That handed Selby the chance to extend his lead, and he also took frame 11 by getting the better of a safety battle on the last red for 8-3.
The 12th came down to a long tactical exchange on the final black, and Jones slotted it home from mid-range to start his fight-back. A run of 53 helped him make it 8-5 and when Selby missed a simple pink to a centre pocket on 48 in frame 14, he looked vulnerable as Jones closed within two frames.
But world number two Selby weathered the storm, making a fabulous 137 total clearance to lead 9-6. Jones pulled one back and had chances in frame 17, but Selby outmaneuvered him on the final red and cleared to cross the winning line.
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