Shanghai Masters 2019 – Day 5 – SF 1

Shaun Murphy beat Mark Allen by 10-3 in the first semi final of the Shanghai Masters 2019. This is not the kind of result I expected; I thought that the match would be close. I certainly didn’t expect Mark Allen to get trounced, the day after he had outplayed Judd Trump.

Actually the match was close up to frame eight. Mark Allen was then 4-3 behind and in the process of clearing the colours to make it 4-4. He missed the green, he didn’t win another frame. It wasn’t a straightforward green, but it wasn’t an impossible shot either. Losing that frame appeared to knock all the stuffing out of him. It may be only my perception – and I may be completely wrong – but it seemed to me that from there on, Mark had lost the belief that he could win and was more or less going through the motions. The fact that had only won five of his 16 previous encounters with Shaun might have something to do with it.

Anyway, here are the reports bby Worldsnooker

Afternoon session (morning in Europe)

Shaun Murphy will take a 6-3 advantage into the concluding evening session of his Shanghai Masters semi-final with Mark Allen.

The pair also met in the last four at the recent International Championship in Daqing, where Murphy was a 9-6 victor. He finished runner-up to Judd Trump.

They will play the best of 19 match to a conclusion tonight, with the winner progressing to contest Sunday’s final against Neil Robertson or Ronnie O’Sullivan where a top prize of £200,000 will be up for grabs.

The first two frames this afternoon were shared, before breaks of 88 and 82 saw Murphy establish a 3-1 lead at the mid-session interval.

When they returned they traded breaks of 74 to progress the scoreline to 4-2. A contribution of 55 saw Allen steal the seventh on the colours. However, 2018 Masters champion Allen then crucially spurned an opportunity to level by missing a green. Triple Crown winner Murphy punished that error by clearing with 25 to move 5-3 ahead.

The Magician consolidated his lead with a run of 58 in the last frame of the session.

Evening session (afternoon in Europe)

Shaun Murphy is through the Shanghai Masters final for the first time after beating Mark Allen 10-3 in the last four.

This was the second consecutive event where close friends Murphy and Allen have met in the semi-finals. They clashed a month ago in the semis of the International Championship. On that occasion Murphy also came out on top by a 9-6 scoreline.

The Magician will now face either defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan or Neil Robertson in Sunday’s final. The victor will hold the most lucrative invitational title in snooker, with a total prize fund of £751,000 and a winner’s share of £200,000.

The head-to-head record between Murphy and Northern Irishman Allen is now very much weighted in the 2005 World Champion Murphy’s favour. The Englishman has won 12 of their 17 professional meetings.

World number 14 Murphy’s return to form this season is in stark contrast to how he fared last campaign. His qualification for this event was under threat, until his run to the International Championship final in Daqing. A poor 2018/19 season, where he lost nine times in the first round, did damage to his position in the world rankings. However, he clung on to his top 16 spot and his place in Shanghai.

37-year-old Murphy came into this evening having already accumulated a three-frame cushion in the afternoon session, emerging with a 6-3 advantage.

Murphy put on a flawless display tonight to deny Allen any further frames. He fired in breaks of 64, 80, 61 and 104 to claim four consecutive frames and wrap up the win in just under three hours of play.

Murphy said: “It just shows you how mad sport is. Especially sports that you play on your own. I haven’t really done that much different to last season. It is probably just those six inches between my ears. I thought it was a good game today.  I was a little bit lucky at times. Any little bit of luck that could have gone either way went to me. Maybe the scoreline doesn’t reflect how the match was, but I am thrilled to be in the final.

“Mark and I have played each other millions of times now, so we leave our friendship in the practise room and go out to try and kill each other! The public would have it no other way. As soon as we shake hands we are best of friends again. There is always a bit of text banter before the game. Just enough so you can have a bit of a laugh, but out there it is very serious and we are trying to win.

“It is a personal best for me this week in Shanghai and it is one of my favourite stops on tour. There was a time a couple of weeks ago when I hurt my leg where I thought I might have to miss this year. It is a bonus to be out here and now I am in the final I’m just one match away from the title.”

There will be a lot at stakes for Shaun Murphy come Sunday: a possible first Shanghai Masters title and a possible spot in the Champion of Champions 2019.