This final could go all the way…
Shaun Murphy holds a narrow 9-8 lead over Stuart Bingham after the first day of the Betfred World Championship final.
It’s perfectly poised going into the 17th and last day of the Championship, with first to 18 frames on Monday night to collect the coveted trophy and £300,000 top prize.
Murphy has twice threatened to build a decisive advantage, when he led 3-0 and 8-4, but each time Bingham has refused to buckle and fought his way back. The final has already produced four centuries and 13 breaks over 50 in the 17 frames, with both players producing snooker of the highest quality.
Murphy is seeking his second world title, having conquered the Crucible in 2005, and his sixth world ranking title in all. Victory would also give him his fourth title of the season, having won the Masters as well as two European Tour events.
Nottingham-based world number eight Murphy, age 32, has knocked out Robin hull, Joe Perry, Anthony McGill and Barry Hawkins to reach the final, conceding just 25 frames and making 11 centuries.
Basildon’s 38-year-old Bingham, ranked tenth, has also won three titles so far this season, including the Shanghai Masters which was his second full ranking crown. He had never previously been part the quarter-finals in Sheffield, and this is his first final in a Triple Crown event.
Bingham beat Robbie Williams and Graeme Dott before giant-killing victories over Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump. He made six centuries en route to the final and lost 12 more frames than Murphy, but is showing no signs of fatigue so far.
The resumed tonight at 4-4 and Bingham looked set to take the opening frame until he missed a red to a top corner on 57. Murphy stepped in with a superb 74 clearance, and that gave him the momentum to pull away as he blasted in breaks of 106 and 121 to go 7-4 ahead. He then came from 41-0 down to take the 12th frame, the key shot an excellent long pot on the fourth-last red which set up a 51 clearance.
But Murphy potted just one ball in the next three frames as Bingham stormed back with runs of 76, 123 and 89 to close to 8-7. His century in the 14th frame was the 84th of the tournament, beating the record of 83 set in 2009 and underlining just how high the standard of play has been this year.
Murphy responded with a break of 76 for 9-7, and had a scoring chance in the last of the session, but could only make 21. Bingham compiled a run of 53 then potted the penultimate red to narrow the gap to just one frame overnight.
They return at 2pm for eight more frames, with the balance from 7pm.
Murphy needs to win nine of the last 18 frames.