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Out-of-sorts Selby sent packing by Yuan in fraught affair at European Masters

Out-of-sorts Selby sent packing by Yuan in fraught affair at European Masters thumbnail

Mark Selby was deservedly beaten 5-2 by Yuan Sijun in a nervy opening-round match at the European Masters.

Yuan had only been able to win four frames in his first three meetings with Selby, but on this occasion he sent the four-time world champion packing at the Stadthalle Furth in Germany.

Bar a fourth-frame 137, Selby struggled throughout, and though Yuan had the jitters when trying to get over the line in a lengthy seventh frame, he eventually closed it out in what was the longest-running match of the evening session.

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Next up for Yuan is a second-round meeting with Jackson Page.

Earlier in the day, defending champion Fan Zhengyi lost 5-1 to Michael Judge, while Stuart Bingham enjoyed a comfortable 5-1 win over Ian Burns.

Judd Trump eased into the second round when beating Noppon Saengkham 5-2.

Both Selby and Yuan had opportunities in a scrappy opening frame, and it was Yuan who managed to get over the line by 80-31 after sweeping up the colours.

Yuan settled into his stride and certainly looked stronger early on, with a long red kick-starting a 68 break en route to a 2-0 lead.

Again it was Yuan who took his chances in the third frame, winning it 76-18 to leave Selby with a mountain to climb.

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“He surely needs to win this frame, but nothing he does is coming off,” Eurosport commentator Dave Hendon said ahead of the fourth frame.

“His safety is loose, he’s not been able to put anything together in the way of a break, long-potting non-existent and he looks devoid of confidence. Yuan hasn’t had to do a lot to build a commanding advantage.”

Right on cue, Selby bounced back in style, sealing the century break with a fine red along the cushion with the rest before doubling the final red. By clearing up the colours he recorded a 137 break and reduced the deficit to two frames at the mid-session interval.

Selby brings up century in style then doubles final red en route to 137 break

A big moment in the fifth frame saw referee Desislava Bozhilova call foul and a miss against Yuan after he was left snookered by Selby.

Replays still left Eurosport’s commentators stumped, but Bozhilova stuck with her decision as Yuan needed several more attempts to get out.

He eventually lost the frame as Selby made it 3-2, but Yuan recovered from that setback when edging another tight frame.

Leading 4-2 and a frame from victory, Yuan had a big shot on the pink which could have steered him to victory, but he missed the long shot before a lengthy exchange ensued with two reds remaining.

It was finely poised with Yuan ahead 44-38, but having seemingly won that battle, the Chinese 22-year-old missed a simple green when it looked as though the match was over.

Surprised to be back at the table, Selby rolled the green near the cushion, but benefitted from the white going near the blue, and Yuan was unable to make the pot.

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Nevertheless, Yuan sunk a long green, redeeming himself to an extent, but he could not pot the brown which would have left Selby needing snookers.

Selby needed to pot the remaining four colours to force a re-spot, but he also attempted to snooker his opponent in the hope that would not be necessary.

The clock neared 11pm BST as Yuan continued to try and put the match to bed, but the brown was taking an age to drop, while Selby toiled in his search for a snooker.

Eventually, after more than 15 minutes without a pot, Yuan snookered Selby and forced the foul before finally sinking the brown and sealing the win.

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