Shaun Murphy beat Ryan Day 6-3 to reach the final of the Betway UK Championship for the third time, setting up a clash with Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Murphy beat O’Sullivan 10-8 in the final of the Champion of Champions last month and will hope for the same result over another best-of-19 battle in York on Sunday. The winner will bank the £170,000 top prize and capture the first Triple Crown title of the season.
World number six Murphy won this event in 2008 and lost to Mark Selby in the 2012 final. He is aiming for the fourth Triple Crown success of his career having won the World Championship in 2005 and the Masters in 2015.
Nottingham-based Murphy has been in fine form in recent months, reaching the final of the China Championship and the Paul Hunter Classic as well as winning the Champion of Champions. The 35-year-old is aiming for his eighth career ranking title.
A break of 104 gave Murphy the opening frame tonight and he had a chance to take the second from 45-5 down but snookered himself on the last red, allowing Day to level at 1-1. Murphy then stepped up a gear with runs of 73, 89 and 135 to lead 4-1.
Day took frame six with a 61 and had first chance in frame seven but only made 30 before missing a red to a centre pocket. Murphy’s 70 put him within one frame of victory at 5-2.
Pontycymmer’s Day pulled one back with a break of 128 but Murphy clinched the result in frame nine with runs of 59 and 22.
“I played well, scored heavily and my safety was ok,” said Murphy who – like O’Sullivan – has not had to beat a top-16 ranked player to reach the final. “Ryan is so dangerous and he believes he can beat anyone.
“Tomorrow is one of the biggest matches of the season alongside the Masters and World Championship finals. I’ll be playing Ronnie in the final of a Triple Crown event for the first time and that’s a dream come true for me because he’s the best player of all time. I can’t wait.
“The fact that I beat him in the Champion of Champions final recently means I know I can get to ten frames before him. But I’ll have to bring all the departments of my game to the party. I love watching him play but hopefully I won’t spend too much time sitting in my chair doing that.
“Ronnie is a sporting phenomenon and we’re lucky to be playing in the same era. He will turn up tomorrow, the question is whether I can settle down and not be a rabbit in the headlights.”