Mark Selby claims experience on the biggest stage proved key after a scintillating display saw him blow away David Gilbert 9-1 to deservedly secure a maiden English Open crown.
The three-time world champion oozed quality, ending a 13-month silverware drought by recording the highest margin of victory in this final’s history to lift the Steve Davis Trophy.
Selby dominated from the off, securing 360 points before the first mid-session interval, leading 4-0 with chances of a turnaround for Gilbert – who has never won a ranking event – already slim.
A 16th ranking title for the Leicester potter, his 13th success in his last 14 finals, was then secured thanks to a stylish break of 101 in the evening’s second frame.
“It’s about self-belief. Winning a big tournament, like I did with the Worlds, helped me kick on,” said Selby who lost eight of the first 11 ranking event finals if his career before winning the World Championship in 2014.
“In the first four frames here, I didn’t give Dave a chance at all. If you’re not getting that many chances, what can you do?
“I was playing good safety, and when I got my chances, I was taking them.
“After missing a black just off its spot at 4-0, I was cursing myself because I know how quickly a game can turn around.
“I didn’t want to give him easy chances, I wanted to keep him on the back foot. Fortunately, he didn’t win it and I kicked on again.”
Selby missed just a meagre seven pots throughout the final, with a 130 break in the seventh frame epitomising his dazzling performance, as he started with a terrific long-range red with the cue ball tight to the side cushion.
Requiring only two frames in the evening, the 36-year-old wrapped up the match inside 35 minutes, a stark contrast to his long-running tactical battle with Mark Allen in the semi-finals.
Seven breaks of 60-plus showed how his all-round game has flourished in Crawley, something that delighted Selby.
“I played in a great match against Mark yesterday. 12 months ago, I was losing matches like that.” He added.
“To dig in and turn that around gave me great confidence heading into the final.
“Confidence only comes from winning. I’ve had 12-15 months of not winning, the only way I was going to get my confidence back was to win a big tournament.
“I always believed I could win one again, but mentally it’s been really hard. It’s the kind of performance I needed. Hopefully it’ll kick-start my season.”
Gilbert admitted Selby taught him a snooker lesson as his bid for a first-ever ranking title continues following his eight-frame annihilation.
“I don’t think there are many players in the world that could have given him a game today,” said the 38-year-old. “It just shows the level you need to be at to win one of these things.
“Mark didn’t give me anything to get started. His safety just killed me, he had me welded to the top cushion.
“And then my long game and safety was just terrible when I did get in.
“I got a frame on the board and felt good, but I barely had a pot in the last two frames that afternoon.
“It was a masterclass performance. He does that all the time to me in practice!”
PLEASE LEAVE IN FINAL PAR – Watch the English Open live on Eurosport and Eurosport Player with studio analysis from Ronnie O’Sullivan and Jimmy White