Shaun Murphy scored one of his best Crucible wins since he won the title 16 years ago as he beat world number one Judd Trump 13-11 in the quarter-finals of the Betfred World Championship.
Going into Wednesday’s play, many would have anticipated a Trump against Neil Robertson semi-final, but both favourites lost on a day of surprises at the Crucible. Murphy was hauled back from 10-6 to 11-11 but came good in the last two frames, and will now meet Kyren Wilson who knocked out Robertson.
World number seven Murphy is through to the semi-finals for the fifth time in his career and first since 2015 when he lost to Stuart Bingham in the final. The Dublin-based cueman has had a disappointing season, reaching just one other ranking semi-final, but has found his trademark sweet ball striking in Sheffield. Memories of 2005 when he beat Matthew Stevens in the final will now come flooding back for the 38-year-old.
Trump has had a tremendous season, winning five titles and stretching his lead at the top of the world rankings, but finishes on a low note. He was far from his fluent best in his three matches and missed too many balls over his three sessions against Murphy.
Trailing 10-6 going into the last session, Trump got the start he needed by taking the first two frames to close the gap to 10-8. Frame 19 came down to a safety battle on the last red, resolved when Murphy converted a tricky pot to a baulk corner and cleared to go 11-8 ahead.
The 20th was also settled on the last red and this time it was Trump who rolled it into a centre pocket and added the points he needed to narrow the gap to two frames. After the interval, Murphy had first clear chance in frame 21 and made 20 before missing a straight-forward red to a top corner, raising his hands in the air in a sign of frustration. Trump punished him with 67 to close to 11-10, then made a superb break of 111 to level the tie for the first time since 6-6.
In frame 23, Trump made 9 before missing a tricky thin-cut black to a top corner, and Murphy’s excellent 70 restored his advantage at 12-11. Nine-time ranking event winner Murphy looked to be cruising over the line in the 24th until he missed a tough red to a baulk corner on 62. Trump had a chance to counter but made only 14 before wobbling a red in the jaws of a top corner, which proved his last shot.
Murphy said: “It was epic, it was a really high quality match. I’m just thrilled to take the chances in the last two frames having taken an onslaught before that. Between sessions I was watching the other match on TV, then they were talking about our game and Stephen Hendry said ‘I expect Judd Trump to come out and play like a world number one.’ I was thinking ‘I don’t want that!’ But the way Judd started tonight was outrageous.
“I’m not an O’Sullivan, a Williams or a Higgins where runs to semis and finals of this event are commonplace. My career has taken a different path. These matches are a big deal. I will savour it because Judd has been the best player on the planet for the last two years. I have won a match that nobody expected me to win.
“Without doubt it’s one of my best wins of recent years. Judd threw everything at me. But at 11-11 it was the calmest I felt all night because the equation was simple, I still had to win two frames. I have played enough of those matches to know that I will get a chance, I just had to be patient.
“The Crucible has been a house of horrors for me to come back to every year since 2015. I had only won two matches here in the last five years. Usually I’d be at home now watching it on the sofa so I’m very excited to be here.
“Kyren and I grew up close together, I was in Irthlingborough and he was in Kettering, and there’s an intense rivalry between those two towns, though Kyren and I get on very well, we have practised a lot together. He is now a course and distance runner here, he builds his whole life around performing well here. It’s going to be tough.”
Trump, who won the title in 2019, said: “I just couldn’t get going. Shaun played amazing in the second session and built a strong lead. I had kind of given up, but then Shaun really struggled tonight and at 11-11 I was in full control until I missed the black and let him back with an easy chance. That shot summed up the whole match for me. It’s disappointing because I felt it was mine to lose at that point.
“I had a lot of support and it was amazing to feel the energy of the room, that was the only thing that kept me going because I was poor all day. I tried to dig in and find something but I couldn’t get into a rhythm and missed too many easy balls.”
Semi-finals, best of 33 frames
Stuart Bingham v Mark Selby (starts 1pm Thursday)
Shaun Murphy v Kyren Wilson (starts 7pm Thursday)