Murphy completed the Triple Crown with a 10-2 defeat of Neil Robertson at Alexandra Palace in 2015
Shaun Murphy completed the Triple Crown with victory at the Masters two years ago, he’s hoping to return to the winner’s enclosure in snooker’s triangle of excellence in 2017/18.
The Magician is the tenth and most recent player to have joined an elite club of players who have won the World Championship, UK Championship and the Masters. However, his win at the 2015 Masters was the last time he lifted silverware at one of snooker’s big three events.
Murphy is now entering his 21st season as a professional and his appetite to taste success at the highest echelons of the sport is as strong as ever.
Murphy remarked: “It’s one of the things Tiger Woods said years ago after he completed the Grand Slam. Someone asked him, what are you going to do now? He said he would try to win them again. It seems quite flippant, but I think you need to keep setting goals. I became the tenth player to win the Triple Crown and those tournaments are the ones that everyone talks about. What do you do? Rest on your laurels or keep pressing forward? I don’t want to get left behind players like Mark Selby, Judd Trump and Neil Robertson. I feel like I’m still a top player and want to keep going.
“I’m at the stage of my career where I need to look to the future. I will judge myself at the end of my career on how many majors I have won. At the moment with three, I think I can do better. Obviously I will be giving 100 percent every week, but with one eye on being sharp as a tack for the big three events.”
Last term Murphy encountered a mixed bag of results, reaching three ranking semi-finals and four quarter-finals, but he enjoyed victory just once at the 2017 Gibraltar Open. The season ended at the World Championship, with one of the most highly anticipated second round Crucible ties in recent years. Murphy took on five-time World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan. It lived up to its billing and was a high quality affair with big breaks from both players. However, ultimately Murphy fell short in a 13-7 loss.
“I have now watched the match back and quite a few of the frames I won were in a single visit. The other six frames I was short of winning, I actually got in first. When you play the likes of O’Sullivan and Trump you need to intimidate them. You can only beat them if you intimidate them and you can only intimidate them by scoring. I thought our safety frames were pretty even. Every time you play Ronnie it is an opportunity to learn. I learned a lot during that experience and it stands me in good stead.”
The world number six feels that he was on the cusp of a great campaign in 2016/17 and after some fine honing over the summer period, he now feels ready to move his form up a level this season.
“I always say if you win a trophy in a season it has to be deemed a success. However, it was very frustrating that I came close on multiple occasions last season, but only won once. In sport you have to ask yourself the question are you going to give up, or are you going to keep going and try to get better? I have always been one to try and improve,” said the seven-time ranking winner. “I’ve watched a lot of the matches I’ve lost back and I want to see where I can improve. I think players who are keen to get better do well.
“Funnily enough the answer to how I could improve came to me on a sunbed in Tenerife. Since I’ve returned I have gone back to a few things I used to do when I was younger and some little technical changes. They are not necessarily in any manuals but I know they work for me. The worst part of any sport is if you are not confident about where the ball is going to go. If you are playing golf or snooker you can’t be second guessing. For maybe a season or two I’ve been a little bit unsure where it is going to go on the long pots. I feel like I have rectified that now.
“There is even more of a need for an all round game these days. I’ve had a career where I have gone from trying to be ultra attacking to being a bit more defensive. I’m not convinced that either works. The standard on the tour is so strong that you need to be able to be flexible and pick and choose the approach to take on the day. That decision can change minute by minute. You can make your shot choices in some ways based on how your opponent is feeling.”
Murphy will be competing in a number of events across the UK this season. Click here to book tickets and see the Magician in action.