Selby bids for a unique treble at World Championships, as reigning champ O’Sullivan reveals reasons behind his return

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Ever since Mark Selby picked up a snooker cue as a young boy, he has dreamed about two things - becoming the world number one, and winning the World Championship at the Crucible.

He has already achieved the former, and goes into the Betfair World Snooker Championship as the number one ranked snooker player in the world.

He’s also the current UK and Masters champion - but won’t rest until he has got his hands on snooker’s biggest prize.

“To get to the top of the rankings is a huge achievement,” Selby said.

“Especially with the standard of snooker as it is at the moment.

“A lot of people have asked me if I would swap being number one to be World Champion, and the answer would be ‘yes’.

“You only have to win that once and you are never forgotten.”

Selby himself has never forgotten the closest he has come to the main prize - in 2007, when he lost 18-13 in the final against John Higgins.

“I think the circumstances were different,” he remembers.

“I had only recently qualified so it was all new to me, and I was going there with no expectations - I was just happy to be there.

“In a way there was no pressure - I was just playing and enjoying it. I won one game and won the next game, and before I knew it I was in the final and close to winning.

“Now, because I have been a winner and have won tournaments, the expectation levels are bigger.

“You put more pressure on yourself because you know you’re capable of winning.

“It is just about the mindset. You need to find that balance, where you can still approach it as though it means nothing, but really it means everything.”

Reigning champion Ronnie O’Sullivan will begin his defence of the Crucible crown on Saturday, against world number 27 Marcus Campbell.

“From my own perspective I feel like I’ve still underachieved,” the 37-year-old, who has won the World Championship four times, said.

“I’d like to win another world title.”

O’Sullivan has also lifted the lid on his decision to return to snooker, after taking a sabbatical following his 2013 victory: “There’s a part of me that wants instant success, but for me it’s just about having fun,” he said.

“I felt it was time to have some sort of focus in my life.

“I realised that snooker gave me an opportunity to travel and I kind of missed the routine.”