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Milkins And Murphy All Square

Shaun Murphy and Robert Milkins will go into the concluding session of the BetVictor Welsh Open final level at 4-4 in Llandudno at 7pm on Sunday night.

Milkins won three frames in a row from 3-1 down, before Murphy took the last frame of the opening session to leave the contest perfectly poised at Venue Cymru. First to nine frames will lift the Ray Reardon Trophy and collect a cheque for £80,000.

Victory for Gloucester’s 46-year-old Milkins would also see him finish the 2022/23 BetVictor Series on top of that unique ranking list, which would earn him a huge £150,000 bonus. Given that he could also potentially earn places in the Champion of Champions, Tour Championship and a top 16 seeding at the Crucible, success today could be worth well over £250,000.

Milkins is looking to double his tally of ranking titles having won his only previous final at last year’s BetVictor Gibraltar Open. That would make him the 40th player in snooker history to win multiple ranking events. The top prize would move him up to fourth place on the one-year ranking list while on the official two-year list he will be up to 16th if he wins the title and 23rd if he is runner-up.

Murphy, who has won six of the ten previous meetings between the pair, is playing in his 23rd ranking final and first since the 2021 World Championship when he lost to Mark Selby. He is seeking his first ranking title since he won the 2020 Welsh Open and his tenth in all, which would bring him level with Jimmy White and and make him the 11th player to get into double figures. The 40-year old will be up to second place on the one-year list and tenth on the official list if he wins today.

In the opening frame, Milkins was on a break of 58 when he went into the pack but failed to land on a red. Murphy punished him by knocking in a long red and clearing with 60. Frame two came down to the last red and a safety error from Milkins handed his opponent the chance to go 2-0 ahead. The third was also resolved on the last red and this time Milkins trapped Murphy in a tough snooker, and took advantage of the chance that followed to get a frame on the board. Yet again the last red proved crucial in the fourth as Milkins missed it top a top corner when he trailed 28-59 and soon found himself 3-1 down.

A break of 66 saw Milkins halve his deficit and he came from 58-0 down to snatch frame six, shouting “come on” after potting the final black having drawn level at 3-3.  World number 27 Milkins then took the lead for the first time by getting the better of frame seven, before world number 11 Murphy made the highest break of the match so far, 68, in the last of the session to leave them all square.