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Mark Selby reaches williamhill.com UK Championship final

Selby on top of the world after reaching UK Championship final

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UPDATED:

22:03 GMT, 8 December 2012

Mark Selby reached the top of the snooker world for a second time on Saturday night and pledged to take the pressure off himself this time around, starting with Sunday's williamhill.com UK Championship final.

Selby held the game's number-one ranking for 14 months between September last year and November this, losing it to Judd Trump when the Bristol potter landed the International Championship.

No pressure: Mark Selby at the table

No pressure: Mark Selby at the table

But with Trump falling at the first
hurdle in his defence of this title in York, Selby knew reaching the
final would put him back at the top of the ladder and he ticked that
achievement off on Saturday, completing a 9-4 victory over rugged
veteran Mark Davis.

He now meets long-time friend Shaun
Murphy in a final which will be his first ever UK showpiece, and he is
determined to learn from his previous reign at number one in order to
try and lift the trophy.

He achieved top billing last time with a win at the Shanghai Masters, but that was his last significant success.

His time in power was barren and he wants to avoid that happening again.

'It's a great feat to get back to
number one, there have only been nine number ones other than me,' he
said. 'Maybe when I was there before I put too much pressure on myself. I
need to learn from that and try and go out there and enjoy it tomorrow.

Going down: Mark Davis eyes up a shot in defeat

Going down: Mark Davis eyes up a shot in defeat

'I didn't come here this week with the aim of being number one. It's great that I am, but if I don't win tomorrow…'

Murphy and Selby are often off-the-radar players at events, despite their decorated resumes.

Here they have outlasted the more fancied Mark Allen, John Higgins, Neil Robertson and Trump.

As well as being evenly matched on
the baize, the two are good friends off it, and for Selby tomorrow will
be the realisation of a long-held dream.

'Me and Shaun haven't played each
other for a while but we have grown up together through the junior ranks
and always been good friends,' he said.

'I always said to him that it would
be great for us to play in a ranking final and now we are. For whatever
reason before it hasn't happened, so it will be good.'

Selby's top score today was a
second-frame 121, but he looked a little off it at the Barbican, taking a
long time to put his veteran opponent to bed.

He will need to be sharper against
Murphy – a man buzzing from a five-frame comeback against Ali Carter
last night – and he admits he has work to do.

Back on top: Mark Selby relishing a final berth

Back on top: Mark Selby relishing a final berth

'I was missing some easy balls today and I need to work on that tomorrow,' he said.

'I am definitely motivated. I didn't play fantastic and, although it was a good match of snooker, I need to play a lot better.'

Defeat marked the end of the road at
this tournament for Davis, a seasoned pro who at the age of 40 has
finally made a serious impact on the top level of the sport.

This was his third ranking
semi-final of the week but he failed to deliver performances like those
which saw him beat the likes of John Higgins and Matthew Stevens in the
earlier rounds.

'I was a little bit nervous but I
enjoyed it. In the first few I didn't quite get into position, but
getting a 70-odd settled me down. I played poorly tonight, though,' he
said.

'But I'm not going to let it affect me in a bad way. I've had a great week and beaten some top players.

'Even though I've been a pro for 21
years, there have been some new things for me and I know that I will
learn from it next time.'

UK Championship 2012: Judd Trump rues first round exit to Mark Joyce

You'll never see a world No 1 play as badly as that: Holder Trump rues first round UK Championship exit to qualifier Joyce

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UPDATED:

09:19 GMT, 3 December 2012

Judd Trump panned his own performance as the world No 1's title defence at the williamhill.com UK Championship was halted at the first hurdle by qualifier Mark Joyce.

A year after landing the biggest title of his burgeoning career at York's Barbican Centre, Trump was on the painful end of one of the biggest upsets in the tournament’s history, the world No 1 losing 6-5 to 50th-ranked Joyce after at one stage holding a 5-2 lead.

Trump said: 'I should never play that bad. You’ll never see another world No 1 play as badly as that.'

Staring at defeat: Holder Judd Trump after losing his first round match of the William Hill UK Championships at York Barbican Centre

Staring at defeat: Holder Judd Trump after losing his first round match of the William Hill UK Championships at York Barbican Centre

He had made a 104 break in the second frame and was doing enough, it seemed, to set up a second-round clash with Ali Carter, but Joyce had other ideas and the long road back from the brink of defeat had the biggest victory of his career at its end.

'It’s just a bad performance. It was going to come sooner or later,' said 23-year-old Trump, the man tipped in recent days by many, including Stephen Hendry, to be the dominant force in snooker for the next decade.

'He played all right in the last four frames but he’ll have to raise his game a lot to get close to Ali Carter.'

Over the moon: Qualifier Mark Joyce was delighted after his win

Over the moon: Qualifier Mark Joyce was delighted after his win

Trump’s defeat means Mark Selby can reclaim the number one ranking by reaching next Sunday’s final, while Joyce can target the quarter-finals for the second time in his career.

The Walsall man, now 29, knocked out Carter first and then Trump to reach the last eight in 2010, the last year that Telford staged the UK Championship, and the draw has convinced him he might be fated to do the same again.

'I'm over the moon. It wasn’t a vintage performance by any means,' Joyce said.

'It’s the hardest game in the world when you’re under pressure and every shot looks hard, every shot’s a pint of blood.

'I’ve got Ali Carter now and I beat him two years ago so hopefully I can do him as well.'

Joyce has recently revealed how he sustained the arm injury that sidelined him soon after his run in Telford, setting his career back.

'Just after the UK two years ago I got attacked and had a fractured elbow and a fractured eye socket, which ruined the rest of that season,' he said.

'Physically it cost me four months but mentally it cost me a lot longer.'

Carter was a scrappy winner against Steve Davis, coming through 6-2 against the man who won this tournament six times in the 1980s.

Both men struggled for fluency, Carter’s highest break of 88 and an 85 from Davis in the seventh frame out of keeping with the flow of the match.

Yet Carter was the more consistent of the two, with the 33-year-old from Tiptree too strong for the 55-year-old Brentwood veteran.

Davis, competing in his 33rd UK Championship, lamented his own performance but said: 'Ali’s a potential winner of the tournament so I shouldn’t moan.'

Snooker loopy: Trudd slammed his performance after crashing out in York at the first hurdle

Snooker loopy: Trudd slammed his performance after crashing out in York at the first hurdle

China’s last hope Cao Yupeng became the third player from snooker’s boom nation to make a first-round exit.

Cao tumbled out 6-1 against 40-year-old Hastings potter Mark Davis, completing a casualty list of Chinese players that began with yesterday’s defeats for Liang Wenbo and former UK champion Ding Junhui.

With soaring interest and money flooding into the game from China, there are more major tournaments staged in the country than in the United Kingdom, but on the table there remains a gulf in standards.

Mark Davis plays John Higgins next, on Wednesday evening.

Mum's the word: 2008 winner Shaun Murphy is keen to win more titles

Mum's the word: 2008 winner Shaun Murphy is keen to win more titles

Shaun Murphy was UK champion in 2008 and the Manchester-based 30-year-old began another campaign with a comfortable enough 6-3 win over Gloucester’s Robert Milkins.

Seven years have passed since Murphy made his big breakthrough by winning the World Championship.

He has four major ranking titles in all, and was a beaten finalist at the Masters in January, but the trophy tally should be higher according to the world No 4 – and his mother.

'My mum keeps telling me I should have won more and mums are normally right,' Murphy said.

Judd Trump beats Neil Robertson to claim International Championship crown

Trump beats Robertson to claim International Championship title

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UPDATED:

22:50 GMT, 4 November 2012

Judd Trump became the first winner of the International Championship, beating Neil Robertson 10-8 in the final in Chengdu.

The 22-year-old Bristolian became
world No 1 with his semi-final hammering of Peter Ebdon and on Sunday added
the 125,000 first prize.

Champion: England's Judd Trump

Champion: England's Judd Trump

A tight match seemed to have swung Robertson's way when he led 8-6 but his rival left-hander found another gear, breaks of 96 and 119 helping him turn the contest around.

The first four frames were split before Robertson returned from the first interval to open up a 4-2 lead, with breaks of 51 and 41 in frame four.

Trump took two contrasting frames to level – the first at one visit after a stunning opening red, the second a messy affair – but Robertson took the last of the afternoon session with a 50 break to lead 5-4.

The evening began with a re-rack and then a cagey start to frame 10, but Trump took it with a run of 57 to level the match once more.

He nudged ahead but Robertson responded with breaks of 68 and 88, and a 73 after the interval took the Australian 8-6 ahead.

Trump looked to be in trouble when he hammered the black off the table having gone 22 ahead in the vital 15th frame, but responded to close to within one.

And the world number one proved his mettle, going close to a century in the next and then making 119 to go ahead at the perfect time with just one frame needed for the title.

He opened up in the next with a swerve to pot a long red and then split the pack well, but could only make 39. Robertson failed to respond, though, and another superb opening red and pink set Trump on the way to victory.

It was Trump's third ranking title, having won the China Open and the UK Championship last year, while for Robertson it was only a second defeat in 12 ranking finals.

Oscar begs Neymar to join Chelsea

Oscar begs fellow Brazilian Neymar to snub Barcelona for Samba reunion at Chelsea

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UPDATED:

09:36 GMT, 7 October 2012

Chelsea midfielder Oscar is doing his best to convince superstar Neymar to ignore Dani Alves and move to Stamford Bridge.

Alves has been trying to lure Neymar from Santos to Barcelona while Real Madrid are also keen on the 20-year-old Brazil international.

Oscar played with Neymar at London 2012 and is hoping for a reunion next season.

The one they all want: Neymar (11) has been linked with Chelsea, Barca and Real

The one they all want: Neymar (11) has been linked with Chelsea, Barca and Real

Neymar said: 'Oscar messages me to tell me what a great club Chelsea is and what a great city London is.

'He and Dani are both very good salesmen for their clubs. 'When the time is right I will listen to the right offers that my agent has for me.

Trump card: Oscar is trying to convince Neymar to join him at Chelsea

Trump card: Oscar is trying to convince Neymar to join him at Chelsea

'It is very simple – if Barcelona are interested you listen, if Real Madrid are interested you listen, if Chelsea are interested you listen.

'There are maybe five clubs in the world that you know you must at least listen to.'

World Twenty20: England prepare for West Indies test in Super Eights

It's sink or swim: Broad comes out fighting after shaking off pool injury

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UPDATED:

00:09 GMT, 27 September 2012

There are ways of expressing your desire to play but smashing your captain in the face while attempting an expansive backstroke in the hotel pool, as Tim Bresnan did to Stuart Broad here, is surely taking the selectorial nudge a little too far.

The presence of a large watch on Bresnan’s wrist did not exactly soften the blow and Broad was sporting an obvious cut right in the middle of his forehead as he talked of inflicting some damage of his own on West Indies.

‘That was Bressie trying to swim,’ said Broad. ‘He got lost doing backstroke and a big titanium watch hit me on the forehead. It couldn’t be more central.’

Final preparations: England are hoping to win the next five matches to retain their crown

Final preparations: England are hoping to win the next five matches to retain their crown

Stretch it out: Broad is backing his batsmen to hake off the heavy defeat to India

Stretch it out: Broad is backing his batsmen to hake off the heavy defeat to India

The fact that Bresnan’s aim was not quite as true in the thrashing by India means he will probably miss out on the first Super Eight match here at the impressive Pallekele Stadium, rather than through any desire of the captain to get even. Samit Patel is set to replace him in a must-win game.

This is where the World Twenty20 gets serious, the first of three matches which will see England either put one foot in the semi-finals or be left needing to defeat New Zealand and Sri Lanka to keep their title defence alive.

Ready for battle: Stuart Broad shows off his scar from the swimming pool incident with Tim Bresnan

Ready for battle: Stuart Broad shows off his scar from the swimming pool incident with Tim Bresnan

It does not take much to get Darren Sammy to smile, but the West Indies captain was beaming when asked if he had noticed how badly England played spin in that thrashing by India.

‘We will definitely look to bowl spin at them and Sunil Narine is our trump card,’ said Sammy of the young Trinidadian who has made such an impact in Twenty20 cricket without proving himself in Tests. ‘He has done well for us and hopefully he’ll have a big impact against England.’

Chris Gayle will have a role with ball as well as bat and Marlon Samuels may turn his arm over if West Indies decide to throw 12 overs of spin at England.

It is certainly what England expect. ‘We are ready for that,’ said Broad. ‘It’s not as if we found out yesterday that people would bowl spin at us here. Every time an England team comes to the sub-continent the spin question is thrown up. The most important thing is that the guys have their options, a get-off-strike one and a boundary option.

And I know from training that we do. We just didn’t show it the other night.’

If England are to nullify Narine, much may depend on Eoin Morgan overcoming what has been a lean year for him and improving on a 2012 Twenty20 top score of just 27. With Kevin Pietersen elsewhere, Morgan needs to stand up now as England’s best and most experienced short-form batsman.

Big hitter: Chris Gayle is a threat for the West Indies

Big hitter: Chris Gayle is a threat for the West Indies

‘We know what a dangerous player Morgs is,’ said Broad. ‘He brings experience and calmness to our middle order and plays spin very well. He shines when he is under pressure and the team are under pressure now. Every game from now on is must-win.’

Broad believes the loss of early wickets was just as big a factor in the India defeat as seeing spin claim six victims in seven overs. England insist keeping wickets in hand can be just as important in Twenty20 cricket as the 50-over variety.

HOW THEY LINE UP

ENGLAND (probable): Kieswetter (wkt), Hales, Wright, Morgan, Buttler, Bairstow, Patel, Broad (capt), Swann, Finn, Dernbach.

WEST INDIES (probable): Gayle, Charles, Darren Bravo, Samuels, Pollard, Russell, Sammy (capt), Ramdin (wkt), Narine, Rampaul, Edwards.

TIME: 3pm at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium, Pallekele.

TV LIVE: on Sky Sports 1 from 2.30pm.

RADIO: 5 Live Sports Extra from 2.45pm.

PLUS: Sri lanka v new zealand 11am at the PICS, Pallekele.

‘The stats say that if you lose three wickets in the first six overs you basically lose the game,’ said Broad. ‘As a bowling unit we try to take wickets in the first six and as a batting unit you must have that risk-reward. Yes, you want to be scoring 40 plus in those opening overs but you don’t want to be throwing wickets away. Against Afghanistan we valued our wickets and played strong shots. The other day we threw our wickets away.’

Just as integral to the outcome of a game that sees England play outside Kandy for the first time will be how their much-vaunted attack copes against West Indies’ big hitters.

Sammy had a smile on his face again when he took a look at the length of the boundaries at this new stadium which, at 500 metres above sea level, should see the ball fly quickly through the air. ‘The ball seemed to travel watching games on TV,’ said Sammy.

‘It’s a good thing the ground is small. England had the square boundaries very big for us when we played them earlier this year but these seem closer. Hopefully the England bowlers will travel too.’

Ideally those bowlers can be just as destructive as Bresnan attempting his backstroke.

Ronnie O"Sullivan drops out of World Snooker top 16

Rocket needs boost as O'Sullivan drops out of snooker top 16 for first time

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UPDATED:

11:27 GMT, 26 September 2012

The latest World Snooker rankings have confirmed that world champion Ronnie O'Sullivan has fallen out of the top 16 for the first time since he entered it.

O'Sullivan, now 36, joined the game's elite 19 years ago but, despite winning a fourth world crown in May, is now out of the leading group.

That comes as a result of his self-imposed delayed start to the season, with his stalling over signing a player's contract meaning he missed the Shanghai Masters, the Australian Open and the Wuxi Classic.

On the slide: O'Sullivan's ranking has suffered after sitting out a number of events

On the slide: O'Sullivan's ranking has suffered after sitting out a number of events

World Snooker rankings

Click here for the full standings

His participation in ranking events remains, though, as he is automatically seeded second as a result of his Crucible win.

He will play at the International Championship in China next month.

O'Sullivan now sits 17th, with Mark Selby first, Judd Trump second and John Higgins up from fifth to third after his Shanghai win over Trump.

John Higgins beats Judd Trump to win Shanghai Masters

Higgins completes stunning comeback against Trump to lift Shanghai title

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UPDATED:

16:19 GMT, 23 September 2012

John Higgins stormed back from a heavy deficit to lift the Shanghai Masters title with a thrilling 10-9 victory over Judd Trump in the final.

Despite a fantastic 147 break, Higgins was trailing 7-2 at the mid-session interval in the best-of-19 tussle as Trump looked odds-on to avenge his defeat to the Scot in the 2011 World Championship final.

However, Higgins reeled off six frames in a row and although Trump was able to force a decider, it was the 37-year-old who triumphed.

Trumped: John Higgins won the Shanghai Masters

Trumped: John Higgins won the Shanghai Masters

Judd Trump holds off Mark Williams to clinch final spot in Shanghai Masters

Trump holds off Williams to set up final against Higgins in Shanghai Masters

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UPDATED:

16:53 GMT, 22 September 2012

Judd Trump has suffered at the hands
of John Higgins before but believes he can topple the Scot to win the
Bank of Communication Shanghai Masters title.

Both won tricky semi-finals, Trump fending off Mark Williams to win 6-4 and Higgins overcoming Shaun Murphy 6-3.

Final chance: Trump

Final chance: Trump

And 23-year-old Trump, who as a qualifier lost to Higgins in the 2011 World Championship final, rates his chances of reversing that result.

'John's a great player and one of the best to ever play so it'll be tough, but I'm here to win it and I fancy my chances in the final,' Trump said.

Trump was relieved to withstand a gutsy fightback from Williams in the first semi-final.

The world No 2 was at one stage 5-1 ahead and on a break of 53, looking as though he would record a straightforward victory.

The match turned when Trump missed a red, Williams punished him and soon threatened to force a deciding frame.

But UK champion Trump kept his composure and strung together a tidy 58 when a chance came his way in the 10th frame.

Trump, who had earlier breaks of 62, 82, 53, 76, 62 and 82, said: 'I felt I played a lot better and I dominated the match to go 5-1 up. Then Mark turned things around and every time I thought I had him in trouble, he got out of it.

'It was getting tense at 5-4 so I was really pleased to get over the line.'

Four-time world champion Higgins fell 3-2 behind against Murphy, but the 37-year-old recovered and had breaks of 70, 94 and 135, the highest of the tournament so far.

Judd Trump into Shanghai Masters quarter-finals after beating Mark Allen

Trump seals spot in Shanghai Masters quarters after five frame burst sends Allen packing

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UPDATED:

17:21 GMT, 20 September 2012

World No 2 Judd Trump won five frames in a row for the second day in succession to reach the quarter-finals of the Shanghai Masters.

Trump trailed Barry Hawkins 3-0 in the first round before battling back to win and the left-hander recovered from a similar position against Northern Ireland's Mark Allen.

Allen took the opening two frames but Trump found his form with a century in the third and took the next two as well.

In fine fettle: Trump saw off Allen

In fine fettle: Trump saw off Allen

Trump was in first in the sixth frame but ran out of position and Allen eventually worked a chance to level the scores, only to miss a straightforward yellow.

It looked as though he may have got lucky when the white ran up close to a red, but Trump pulled off a superb thin cut with the rest and went on to win the frame and take the match in the next.

Andy Carroll to reject West Ham move

Carroll to deliver Hammer blow as England striker pledges future to Liverpool

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UPDATED:

21:31 GMT, 13 July 2012

Andy Carroll will reject interest from West Ham and is ready to fight for his Liverpool future.

The England international is also wanted by Fulham and Newcastle, but Carroll does not want to leave Anfield and is determined to win Brendan Rodgers over.

Liverpool’s manager has not given Carroll, 23, any assurances over what his role will be, but he is ready for the challenge and will speak with Rodgers when he returns from holiday.

No worries: Andy Carroll is set to reject a move to West Ham United

No worries: Andy Carroll is set to reject a move to West Ham United

West Ham co-owner David Gold said earlier this week that official talks
hadn't taken part between the two clubs, but admitted the London
side are interested in signing Carroll.

Speaking to BBC Sport, Gold said: 'I am not aware of any talks between ourselves or Liverpool over Andy Carroll.

'But that's not to say we don't have an interest should he become available.'

Threat: Liverpool have completed the signing of striker Fabio Borini

Threat: Liverpool have completed the signing of striker Fabio Borini

Fulham could yet hold a trump card with
Clint Dempsey as Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is a confirmed admirer of the USA forward, who is in
the final 12 months of his contract at Craven Cottage and could be used in a swap deal.

There is also interest in Carroll from Italy, and not just from AC Milan but it is debatable whether
a move to Serie A would appeal to him.