Injured Murphy Wins McGill Battle
Shaun Murphy fought through the pain barrier to beat Anthony McGill 6-5 and reach the semi-finals of the Ladbrokes Players Championship.
Murphy has been suffering from back and neck problems in recent weeks and had to pull out of two tournaments before heading to Llandudno. With the aid of regular physiotherapy he has been able to compete this week, scoring wins over Kyren Wilson and McGill to reach the last four.
World number seven Murphy now faces Mark Williams in a clash of two former World Champions on Saturday evening, with the winner to play either Ronnie O’Sullivan or Judd Trump in Sunday’s final, with a top prize of £125,000 up for grabs.
Murphy has had an excellent season so far, winning the invitational Champion of Champions as well as reaching the final of the China Championship, Paul Hunter Classic and UK Championship. He is now two matches away from capturing his first ranking title of the season and eighth of his career.
Nottingham-based Murphy took a 2-0 lead today with top breaks of 65 and 52 then Scotland’s McGill won the next three frames with top runs of 86 and 90. Murphy’s 105 made it 3-3.
Frame seven came down to the last red and McGill was lucky to fluke it escaping from a snooker, and he took advantage by clearing to lead 4-3. The scrappy eighth, lasting 36 minutes, went Murphy’s way, and the Englishman also won the ninth by clearing from green to pink after McGill’s attempted long pot on the green missed its target.
A fine break of 107 from McGill made it 5-5 but he didn’t pot a ball in the decider as Murphy’s runs of 69 and 32 put him into the 37th ranking event semi-final of his career.
“I’m absolutely delighted,” said 35-year-old Murphy. “Before coming here I hadn’t played at all since the Welsh Open. Today’s match was a bit scrappy here and there but it was tough match play snooker and I am thrilled to win.
“I am in trouble (with the injury), I have got problems. I have had some great physio a few times this week from a local guy called Barry Craven – without his treatment I may have had to pull out. He has worked some magic but I am by no means healed. It is painful but I felt I’d had enough time off and I wasn’t going to miss this event. I’ll have a hot bath tonight and avoid going out for any triathlon training! Then tomorrow morning I’ll see whether I need more physio.”
Looking ahead to his match with Williams, Murphy added: “Mark is having a full renaissance, an Indian summer. The ‘class of 92’ along with Ronnie O’Sullivan and John Higgins, they are sailing off into the sunset. It’s up to my generation to step it up and not be left behind, or convince them all to retire. Mark is one of the best players of all time, playing well.
“He commands ultimate respect. I will need all parts of my game working because if I have any weakness he will hone in on it and expose it. I will have to play as well as I can bearing in mind I can barely bend down to play a shot.”
McGill said: “I was rubbish. I’m so disappointed in my performance. I was looking forward to the match, but I just couldn’t do anything. I missed a lot of balls. It was good to beat John Higgins in the previous round but if he had stepped it up he would have beaten me.”