Mark Selby was left with mixed emotions after beating Shaun Murphy to land the williamhill.com UK Championship in another post-midnight snooker finish.
While there was obvious satisfaction for Selby in landing the biggest title of his career, a day after clinching a return to world number one status, he also professed disappointment about the quality of the final.
Neither player managed a century break and there were spells where the standard was more befitting of top-end club snooker than the highest level of the professional game.
Had the final run closer than 10-6, Selby’s eventual victory margin, then there might easily have been a post-1am conclusion. And while that can signal great drama, it can also mean television audiences dramatically tailing off and spectators having to leave early.
Selby said of his win: “Obviously it means a great deal. It’s a special moment and a really proud moment.
“At the same time I was a little disappointed with the performance. But a result’s a result. Shaun obviously didn’t play well either.
“It’s strange because over the whole tournament I only really played decent snooker in frames. I don’t think I played a whole match where I played really good snooker. I’ve been poor in patches, more or less amateurish, and then other times I’ve had spurts of a few frames and I’m sitting here as UK champion. It’s strange.
“Once I’d got to the point in the last frame where Shaun needed snookers I knew I was more or less over the line and it was obviously great.
“I’m over the moon, but it’s always nice to go out there and put a good performance on, and as far as UK finals go it wouldn’t go down as one of the greats.
“As far as I’m concerned I missed too many easy balls, and I probably still need to work on that, but the good thing is I’m sat here as UK champion and I still know I can improve.”
Until the closing stages there had been nothing to pick between Selby and Murphy. They had been tied at 4-4 after the afternoon session and then equally split the first four frames of the evening.
But Selby, who at one point had trailed 4-2, proved the stronger player as the match went on and a streak of four frames after the mid-session interval brought the 29-year-old Leicester man the trophy and a cheque for £125,000.
Murphy was a gallant loser, embracing Selby at the end of the match.
“It was never going to be a runaway victory for either of us,” said the Sale-based 30-year-old.
“We know each other so well and each other’s game so well. I don’t think anyone was going to run away with it with loads of centuries, and Mark’s style of play doesn’t really allow anyone to do that to him.
“He plays some very clever shots and that’s why he’s the champion.
“At 6-6 I thought we were very even stevens. But after the interval he went up a couple of gears and I didn’t go with him and ultimately paid the price.”