World number one Mark Selby managed to overcome Luke Simmonds in World Open qualifying to secure a place in the main draw. Selby suffered a disappointing end to last season as he fell in the first round of the World Championship to Joe Perry and he will be keen to make a strong start this year.
The ‘Jester From Leicester’ managed a sensational five ranking title wins in 2016/17 but picked up just two pieces of silverware last time out. For most players, that would be considered a successful season but for Selby that will have been a huge disappointment, which culminated in a first-round exit in Sheffield where he was the two-time defending champion.
Selby should have comfortably beaten Simmonds but he was provided with a tough test before eventually prevailing 5-3. The 35-year-old has been handed a tricky opener in Yuhan, China, as he will take on fellow Englishman Elliot Slessor, the world number 68, in the first round. Selby has never managed to take the World Open title and fell at the first hurdle last season.
Slessor qualified for the event for the first time last year but was dumped out in the first round by Switzerland’s Alexander Ursenbacher. The 23-year-old did enjoy his best ever campaign in 2017/18 however, reaching the semi-finals of the Northern Ireland Open and the quarter-finals of the Indian Open as well as featuring in the main draw of the UK Championship.
Selby is 6.50 to win the UK Championship outright and 5.50 to claim The Masters title this season.