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Four-Ton Lisowski Thumps Murphy

Jack Lisowski made a record-equalling four consecutive centuries as he reached the semi-finals of a Triple Crown event for the first time with an emphatic 6-1 victory over Shaun Murphy.

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Lisowski joined an elite group of just seven other players who have made four tons in a row in a professional tournament. More importantly for the 31-year-old, he is through to the last four and just two wins away from winning his first title. On Saturday evening in York he’ll face Mark Allen, who came from 4-2 down to beat Sam Craigie 6-4.

Players to make four consecutive centuries in professional competition
Neil Robertson (has done so on two occasions)
Jack Lisowski
John Higgins
Gary Wilson
Mark Allen
Shaun Murphy
Stephen Maguire
Lu Ning

Lisowski is at the top of his game, thanks in part to the help of mentor Peter Ebdon. Playing with a clear mind and handling the pressure of competing for a maiden title, Lisowski’s vast natural talent is allowed to flourish. The Gloucestershire cueman has lost just four frames in his three matches in York so far.

The opening frame tonight was a rarity as it featured two breaks of 67, one from each player. Lisowski missed the blue to a centre pocket on that number, and Murphy made a tremendous clearance, taking the last five reds with blacks. That meant a respotted black, and a safety error from Murphy handed Lisowski the chance to convert a mid-range pot to a top corner.

Murphy had the chance of an immediate response but missed a tricky red on 28 in frame two and Lisowski capitalised with a fluent 105 clearance. That sparked his run of four consecutive tons as further breaks of 127, 123 and 100 made it 5-0. He had a chance to become the first player ever to make five in a row, but missed a tricky yellow on 20, and Murphy responded with 111, bowing to the crowd as he registered on the scoreboard.

Former World Champion Murphy had the chance to pull another one back but when he led 54-20 in frame seven, he played a push shot and instantly called a foul on himself. Lisowski cleared with 38 to settle the tie.

“That’s how I’d love to always play snooker, everything was going into the middle of the pockets,” said world number 12 Lisowski, who is through to his tenth ranking semi-final. “When it’s like that, the game feels quite easy.

“After the match, Shaun said some nice things, he’s a great ambassador and a lovely guy. He was very sporting when he called a foul on himself, credit to him.

“I’ve got to focus again, stay positive, bring my A game again tomorrow and not worry about the other guy. Yesterday I got a bit excited after beating Hossein Vafaei and I only got about five hours sleep. Tonight I feel much calmer, I’m just thinking about tomorrow’s game and being sharp for it. I don’t want to just get to a semi-final, I want to win this thing.”

Murphy said: “Every time I made a small mistake, I had to sit down and admire the wondrous talent pouring out of this young man that we have seen coming for for a long time. Maybe this could be his week. It’s not easy winning, but if he can sustain that for another 16 frames he’ll be UK champion.”

World number nine Allen is in a marvellous run of form having reached the final of the Cazoo British Open and won the Northern Ireland Open within the past eight weeks. He is into his 32nd ranking event semi-final and fifth in the UK Championship.

Craigie was playing one of the biggest matches of his career, but settled quickly with a break of 74 to take the opening frame. Allen got the better of a scrappy second frame then made a 105 to lead 2-1. In the fourth, Allen missed the blue off the last red when he had the chance to clear, allowing Craigie to go 18 points ahead on the pink. Allen got the snooker he needed, only for Craigie to pot a long pink for 2-2.

After the interval, Craigie compiled runs of 84 and 104 to lead 4-2, only for Allen to storm back with 50, 108 and 92 to edge 5-4 ahead. And Northern Ireland’s Allen scrapped his way through the tenth frame to stay on track for an eighth career ranking title.

“I played good stuff from 4-2,” said the Pistol, who was runner-up at this event in 2011 and 2018. “I wasn’t timing the ball well tonight but I hung in there, I was really good mentally, thinking good thoughts. At 4-2 I was hoping Sam would see the winning line. He played a few shots that were different to the way he played in the early part of the match, especially the break in frame nine when he rolled into the pack. I was surprised because that was negativity. I fed off that and kept him under pressure.

“I’m happy with where I am, I have won a lot of matches and wining breeds winning. If Jack plays like he did tonight I have to try to be ready for that. I haven’t had my best stuff this week but I’m still here.”