Shaun Murphy over-came a Liang Wenbo fight-back to win 6-4 and reach the final of the Kreativ Dental German Masters for the first time.
In a see-saw content, Murphy led 3-0 and trailed 4-3 but came good when it mattered to take the last three frames with a trio of classy breaks. He set up a final meeting with Mark Selby or Stephen Maguire tomorrow. First to nine frames will take the 80,000 Euro top prize.
Clearly the man to beat on current form, Murphy will be looking for his sixth trophy in 12 months and he is on course for back-to-back titles having won the Masters last month. The 32-year-old will be targeting his sixth ranking title tomorrow and first since last season’s Haikou World Open when he beat Selby in the final.
The Englishman was cruising in early exchanges today, making a break of 141 in taking a 3-0 lead. But China’s Liang, who had won all four previous meetings with Murphy, seized the momentum with breaks of 90 and 106 to close to 3-2. He got the better of a scrappy sixth frame, then capitalised on a missed yellow from Murphy in the seventh to take the lead.
World number 24 Liang was playing in only the second ranking semi-final of his career, but began to believe that he could repeat his victory over Murphy at the same stage of the 2009 Shanghai Masters. However Murphy rose to the occasion by firing in runs of 65, 145 and 89 to close out the match in superb fashion.
“When I missed the yellow in the seventh frame I had two choices – I could either have sat in my chair and let it bother me, or start again and carry on,” said Murphy. “I took the second option, kept on going for my shots, and for the last three frames most of then went in. In years gone by, my head would have gone down at 4-3, I would have lost hope and lost belief. This time I kept trying and I’m into the final.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for Liang as a snooker player, he plays some great shots and very inventive shots. The crowd like him and he’s a bit of a character. He wasn’t frightened of me or the occasion and on another day he would have won.
“It has been a privilege to watch snooker grow at this venue – there were 2,500 die hard fans out there today. When it goes down to one table it becomes the best snooker arena on the tour. You can hear and taste the atmosphere – your senses are on fire.”