Murphy is into his third world final
Shaun Murphy beat Barry Hawkins 17-9 at the Betfred World Championship to reach the final at the Crucible for the third time.
Murphy led 16-8 going into today’s concluding session, needing just one frame for victory. Hawkins pulled one back with an excellent break of 103 – the eighth century of the match – but Murphy settled the result in the next with a cool 83 clearance.
Nottingham-based 32-year-old Murphy will now meet Judd Trump or Stuart Bingham on Sunday and Monday over 35 frames, with the winner to lift the famous trophy and receive the £300,000 top prize.
Murphy was just 22 when he won snooker’s biggest title for the first time ten years ago, after coming through the qualifying rounds. He also reached the final in 2009 but lost to John Higgins. The world number eight now has the chance to join Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry, John Higgins, Mark Williams and Ronnie O’Sullivan as the only players to conquer the Crucible on more than one occasion.
In recent years Murphy has suffered long spells of self-doubt, particularly between September 2011 and February 2014 when he failed to win a title of any sorts. With the help of coach Chris Henry he has worked hard on his game, his fitness and his confidence. The rewards have been plentiful as he has won five titles over the past 15 months, including this season’s Masters. And over the past fortnight at the Crucible he has played better snooker than anyone, scoring 11 centuries and losing just 25 of the 78 frames he has played.
“It’s unbelievable – aside from winning the World Championship and the Masters, getting to the final here is the best feeling in snooker,” said Murphy. “To have the opportunity to get your name on that trophy – even to touch it and be in the same room as it – is amazing. It’s hallowed turf for snooker players, so I’m buzzing.
“You realise that the next time you walk into that arena that it will be for real, and you know you’re going to go head to head with another great player for that trophy.
“Barry Hawkins is a class player, he rightly deserves his ranking, he’s very well respected on the tour, and I thought he showed his class last night and played some fantastic snooker from 13-3 behind. Had he started the match like that then it would have been a completely different story.
“I played some really good stuff in the first couple of sessions and built up what turned out to be a commanding lead. A lot of players talk about having a day off but I don’t believe in fatigue or burnout so I quite enjoyed coming out to play today.
I didn’t really take part in the 2009 final against Higgins, so to have another crack at it is what I’ve been dreaming of since then. It would mean more than winning it the first time if I was to win it again, I will be putting absolutely everything I’ve got into this match
“I’m just so lucky that I am getting to live my dreams. As a child I came here to watch the Championship for the first time in 1992 and I dreamt of walking out here. So to walk out in the final for a third time – it’s something I’m going to savour. I’m going to enjoy every minute of it, I’ll enjoy every little picture that I take with my mind, everybody I see in the audience, every shot. But when it comes down to play I will focus and give it my best.”
Hawkins, who was runner-up here in 2013 and lost in the semis last year, said: “I didn’t start too well but I can’t take anything away from Shaun. He was phenomenal in those first two sessions, every long ball was just going straight in and it was putting so much pressure on my safety.
“I didn’t play that badly, I started a bit slowly but he was just the better player. I was tired but you’ve got to expect that, it’s a two week tournament and you’re going to get tough matches. I can’t use that as an excuse, he completely outplayed me with some of the best snooker I’ve seen, the long potting was just a joke
“It’s going to take a special performance from either of the other two players to beat Shaun. He’s cueing so well, there’s just not a safe place on the table.
“I’m really pleased with my attitude the last few months. I’ve got my motivation back and I’ve had the right attitude going into the last few tournaments. I wanted to go on and win this – but I probably would have taken the semi finals before the tournament, the way the season has gone.”
Hawkins also broke down in tears as he mentioned manager Paul Mount, who is stepping down from snooker management. “I’d just like to say thanks to Paul for the last few years,” said the Ditton-based potter.
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