Shaun Murphy is determined to keep his hot streak going as he looks ahead to the Dafabet Northern Ireland Open, which starts on Monday.
Murphy picked up his first piece of silverware this season by beating Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-8 in the final of the Champion of Champions a week ago.
And the world number five is looking forward to getting back on the baize at the Belfast Waterfront at the tournament which runs from November 20 to 26. He faces China’s Chen Zifan in his opening match on Monday afternoon.
“Winning last week is up there with my career highlights, after the Triple Crown wins it’s close behind,” said 35-year-old Murphy. “The Champion of Champions is all tournament winners and the cream of the crop so to win it is very special.
“Of course beating Ronnie in the final gave me an extra boost because I’d never beaten him over that distance before. He has got the better of me a few times at the Crucible but now I know I can beat him in a long match. Ronnie is the best player on the planet and the standard that we all aspire to. Mark Selby may be world number one but I’m sure even he would admit the same.”
Murphy was absent from last week’s Shanghai Masters because he lost in the qualifying round but he feels the break has come at a welcome time.
“On the one hand I would have liked to keep my momentum going after Coventry and I found myself twiddling my thumbs last week,” added the 2005 World Champion. “But it could be a blessing in disguise because it has given me time to reflect on my victory and stay fresh for next week. I’m really looking forward to Belfast now because it’s one of the best cities we go to.
“Any player who does well in all of the events over these few weeks is going to find it very hard to keep the form going by the time we get to the UK Championship. The players are trying to stay fresh and those who have played a lot of matches might find it catching up with them.”
Also battling for the title in Belfast will be the likes of O’Sullivan, John Higgins, Judd Trump, Neil Robertson, Jimmy White, defending champion Mark King and home favourites Mark Allen and Joe Swail. Tickets are still available and start at just £10 – for details click here and for the match schedule click here