‘The aim is a title’ – Woollaston ends Selby hopes at Championship League

Ben Woollaston finished with breaks of 78 and 127 as he defeated four-time world champion Mark Selby 3-1 to reach the Championship League last 32.

Selby made two half-century breaks against his fellow Leicester professional at the city’s Morningside Arena, but world No. 42 Woollaston never trailed after opening with a fine run of 69 in their Group 3 decider.

Selby began his day with a 3-1 victory against James Cahill – the Blackpool player who regained his tour card at Q School last month – in compiling knocks of 54, 55, 113 and 58 with Cahill responding with 65 of his own in the second frame.

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Further breaks of 50 and 55 saw Selby despatch Zhang Jiankang 3-0, but Woollaston bettered those results with two 3-0 victories against Zhang and Cahill, contributing three 50-plus runs.

He only required a point against Selby to progress and finished strongly to claim maximum nine points with the world No. 3 – who was last month awarded an MBE for services to snooker – forced to settle for second spot in the section at the season’s first ranking event.

“I played really well, surprisingly. I knew the last match was going to be difficult going up against Mark, he only missed one ball all game, but I managed to play well too,” said Woollaston.

“I just tried to get on with it when I had chances and clear up. I’ve not played much in the off-season, I’ve played for about two weeks for one or two hours a day, so it was a surprise to be as sharp as I was out there.

I’d love to get back into the top 32 again this season, and the aim every season is to win a title.

Elliot Slessor completed a 3-1 win over Welsh Open champion Joe Perry to top Group 23 that included a knock of 60 in the third frame.

Slessor also enjoyed a 3-1 win over Lukas Kleckers and made breaks of 79 and 67 in a 2-2 draw with 2007 Welsh Open finalist Andrew Higginson.

Perry had earlier hit 117 in a 3-0 triumph against Kleckers and drew 2-2 with Higginson, but could not earn the point he needed to deny Slessor top spot.

Latest Championship League group winners

  • Group 24: Robert Milkins (Eng)
  • Group 13: Aaron Hill (Ire)
  • Group 4: Zhao Xintong (Chn)
  • Group 31: Anthony Hamilton (Eng)
  • Group 6: Michael Judge (Ire)
  • Group 26: Chris Wakelin (Eng)
  • Group 10: Luca Brecel (Bel)
  • Group 29: Lu Ning (Chn)
  • Group 1: Ronnie O’Sullivan (Eng)
  • Group 27: Jamie Jones (Wal)
  • Group 15: Ricky Walden (Eng)
  • Group 32: Xiao Guodong (Chn)
  • Group 9: Yuan Sijun (Chn)
  • Group 30: Lyu Haotian (Chn)
  • Group 3: Ben Woollaston (Eng)
  • Group 23: Elliot Slessor (Eng)

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