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Murphy Reaches 50th Ranking Semi-Final

Shaun Murphy recovered a 5-1 deficit to beat Robert Milkins 10-8 and reach the last four of the Duelbits Tour Championship, gaining revenge for defeat in last month’s Welsh Open final.

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Murphy is through to his 50th ranking event semi-final and will take on Mark Selby or Ryan Day in Hull on Saturday. He has played fabulous snooker over the past few weeks and is looking for a second consecutive title in this series having won the Duelbits Players Championship last month, making 11 centuries in four matches.

He also reached the Welsh Open final – firing a 147 en route – before finishing runner-up to Milkins. A repeat result looked likely today when Milkins surged into a 5-1 lead, but Murphy took nine of the last 12 frames, finishing with a classy century, to reach the semi-finals of this event for the first time. The 40-year-old started the season with his top 16 ranking in doubt, but he now has a chance to climb into the world’s top four if he can take the £150,000 first prize this week.

Milkins led 5-3 after the first session and stretched his advantage in the opening frame tonight with a break of 68. In the next, Murphy potted eight reds with blacks before missing the ninth red to a top corner, but still took the frame to close to 6-4. His momentum gathered as breaks of 64, 106 and 67 helped him take the next four frames to go 8-6 ahead.

Back came Milkins, taking two in a row for 8-8. In frame 17, Murphy led 57-0 when he played a push shot, but he then got the better of a safety exchange, potted a mid-range red and added enough points to regain the lead. And the best shot of the match, an exquisite long red along a side cushion to a top corner, set him up for a run of 128 to seal the result.

“This afternoon at 5-1 I felt I had done the game,” admitted the Magician. “Somehow I managed to scrape the last two frames of the session. I went off for a walk and a hot chocolate between sessions, and at that point I believed I was going to win the match. If I had been 6-2 or 7-1 down it might have been too big a deficit to overhaul. At 5-3 I had a foothold, I was in the game.

“I have belief in myself and my technique. I have a decent CV to fall back on. All of those things come into play when you are out there in the pit. I worry about things a lot less than I used to and that has freed me up to play my game. But Rob also played with the freedom of a man who has won £300,000 in the last few weeks. He’s so gifted and talented, he went for his shots and he got a lot of them. I managed to stay somewhere near him and was relieved to get to ten first. I had a lot of help from lady luck – every flick and kiss went my way, otherwise Rob would probably have come out on top.

“I have a couple of days off now to get my head right and prepare for the semis. I love performing to crowds, I love putting on a show, I am an entertainer, anyone who has been to one of my exhibitions knows that. I am looking forward to Saturday.”

Milkins said: “I was terrible tonight. I struggled with my tip, it was getting harder and harder. Anything from distance with side was just slipping off the tip.”