Mark Selby: 'I won't let the Curse of the Crucible beat me'
Mark Selby knows he has to not only defeat 31 other players vying to cause an upset at the BetFred World Snooker Championship but he must also conquer the 'Curse of the Crucible'.
The 31-year-old beat Ronnie O'Sullivan to win the title last year and goes into the 2015 tournament in good form having sealed victory in the China Open earlier this month.
With the tournament getting under way on Saturday, Selby has to rewrite history as he looked to break the so-called curse - with no first-time champion ever able to successfully defend the crown the next year.
The run goes all the way back to when the event first switched to Sheffield's Crucible Theatre in 1977 and Selby believes breaking the run would add even more gravitas to picking up back-to-back world championships.
"The record speaks for itself," the world number one said.
"It is in the back of my mind, you can't take that away. I feel I'm confident enough and have just won my last tournament so I feel ready to defend it.
"Just to win it once as I did last year was a fantastic achievement for me but to win it twice and break the curse would be outstanding.
"I also heard that no-one has ever won the China Open and then gone on to win the World Championship so you could say there are two records."
Names such as Steve Davis, Dennis Taylor, Stephen Hendry, John Higgins and Ronnie O'Sullivan have all failed in their attempt to retain the title following their maiden win and Selby believes you become a marked man once you have made an impact.
"It is such a hard tournament to win. Just to win it one time is hard enough and to go there and try and defend it is twice as hard," he said.
"You look at the players who have won it over the years, O'Sullivan, Hendry, Steve Davis - it just shows you how hard the tournament is.
"I will be definitely trying harder, it will be in the back of my mind to inspire me and push me on even more.
"Now I'm trying to make a name for myself I have noticed that players are raising their game against you because you are seen as more of a scalp than you were five or six years ago - in a way that just shows what you have achieved and is a good accolade."
O'Sullivan recently said prize money in the game was dwindling and hit out at Barry Hearn, chairman of World Snooker, who scoffed at the claims in a press conference ahead of the championship - saying the five-time winner was sometimes "off with the fairies".
Selby is used to O'Sullivan being vocal but still believes the 39-year-old is favourite for this year's crown.
"He comes out with these little quotes now and again," Selby added.
"Ronnie is Ronnie. He is one of the greatest to play our game - if not the greatest. He will always be in with a shout.
"He picks and chooses his tournaments, which everyone is entitled to do. It is irrelevant how many tournaments he has played in.
"I may be the defending champion but he will still probably go there as favourite and nobody would disagree with that, he is still the one to beat."