Stephen Hendry believes Mark Selby to be a greater threat to his record of seven World Snooker Championship titles than Ronnie O’Sullivan, says Steve Davis. Selby clinched his fourth triumph this week by beating Shaun Murphy 18-15 at the Crucible.
The 37-year-old’s fourth world title follows successes in 2014, 2016 and 2017 and the Jester from Leicester picked up £500,000 in prize money thanks to his latest Sheffield title.
In the modern era, only Hendry – with a record seven – and six-time winners Davis, O’Sullivan and Ray Reardon have picked up more World Championship victories than Selby.
The Rocket, 45, had come into this year’s tournament as the defending champion and was looking to join all-time great Hendry on seven apiece in his bid to go down as the greatest snooker player of all time.
But according to Davis, Hendry himself believes it will be Selby who is a bigger threat to his record than O’Sullivan, despite Ronnie only being one away from drawing level.
“Mark has time on his side, he is only 37,” Davis said of Selby. “Stephen Hendry feels that maybe Mark is the one to challenge his record seven world titles, even if Ronnie O’Sullivan is closer.
“Put it this way, I don’t think he [Selby] will stick at four, he is too good for that. His all-round game is very similar to John Higgins, and the will and desire to win is always there.”
Selby has 20 major ranking titles and is only behind Davis, Hendry and O’Sullivan in terms of Triple Crown event wins, having won the UK Championship twice and the Masters three times.
O’Sullivan thinks he has another five years in him in his attempt to tie Scottish icon Hendry for seven World Championships.
He was dumped out by Anthony McGill 13-12 in the second round this time around and said afterwards: “I have probably got another five years to equal Stephen.
“The way I look after myself, the way I play, I look around and there are some decent players, some very good players.
“I suppose I could get it right maybe one more time. It’s probably the only record I haven’t got so I won’t be too hard on myself.
“Can I still win here? Yeah, yeah. I wouldn’t say that if I didn’t think so. I have to stay in a good frame of mind, turn up.”
Selby, the new world No 2, meanwhile dismissed comparisons to his peers such as O’Sullivan and top-ranked Judd Trump despite his latest Crucible win.
He said: “I’m not the most naturally gifted player. You look at Ronnie and you look at Trump, they’re very, very talented, basically born with a cue in their hand.
“Whereas me, I’ve had to work hard all the way through my career. I was brought up on a council estate and my father had no money at all.
“He passed away from I was 16 and my mum left me when I was eight years old so I sort of respect the good things in life and obviously try to keep my feet on the ground.”
Despite that, the defeated Murphy – the 2005 world champion – said to Eurosport: “In my opinion, having just gone toe-to-toe with him for two days, I’ve got him down as the best all-rounder we’ve ever seen.
“He’s just granite in all areas – he’s a scorer, a potter, and his long potting was sensational yesterday.
“It’s phenomenal. I’m coming here chasing a second title and he’s now won four.
“He scores very highly and has all the attributes you need to be successful whether it’s in sport, life, business or whatever.
“For me, he’s the best all-rounder we’ve ever seen. John Higgins was classed as the best all-rounder but for me, Mark Selby is better.
“He’s got more patience, he’s willing to wait longer, he plays cleverer shots and is just granite.
“I played a number of shots that I walked away from feeling very happy about things, only for it to be my last shot of the game.
“He’s just granite in all areas and fully deserves every ounce of success he gets.
“The thing he’s got that others don’t, and he’s certainly got more of it than me, is patience. He can stand there all day if it takes that and it’s a credit to him that he’s able to do that.”