Tour Championship 2020 – Day 4 – QF

The last QF of this year’s Tour Championship was a bit of a strange one. Shaun Murphy made 6 centuries, equalling Stephen Maguire’s record only days after he made it, and still lost. Mark Allen looked at his sharpest best but won. What happened there?

Here is the report by WST:

ALLEN BEATS MURPHY IN CLASSIC

Mark Allen edged out close friend Shaun Murphy 9-8 in a thrilling clash at the Coral Tour Championship in Milton Keynes.

Despite losing, Murphy equalled the record for most centuries ever made in a best of 17 match, with six hundred breaks. That draws him level with Scotland’s Stephen Maguire, who had remarkably only set the record earlier this week in his 9-5 win over Neil Robertson.

Victory for 2018 Masters champion Allen sees him reach his seventh semi-final of the campaign, where he will face three-time World Champion Mark Selby. The Northern Irishman will be hoping he can go at least one better this week, having not yet made a final this season.

Allen’s victory sees him close the gap on Murphy in their head-to-head record. However, after losing the previous three meetings with the Englishman, he still trails 13-6.

Defeat for Murphy ends his hopes of winning the Coral Cup and claiming the £100,000 bonus, which goes to the player who accumulates the most prize money over the three-event series. Only Judd Trump and Stephen Maguire, who meet in tomorrow’s first semi-final, can top the standings. Maguire must win the event, whilst Trump just has to win tomorrow.

This afternoon’s action saw Murphy and Allen emerge locked together at 4-4, to set up what would prove to be a pulsating second session.

It was Murphy who was fastest out of the blocks this evening, a break of 100 saw him take the opener, before he added another to lead 6-4. Allen clawed one back, but a sublime break of 131 allowed Murphy to move 7-5 up at the mid-session interval.

Allen typically showed his steel on the resumption, contributions of 76 and 74 saw him draw level at 7-7.

Murphy then fired in his sixth century of the tie, a run of 100, to move one from victory at 8-7. However, Allen refused to wilt under a barrage of break building and forced a decider. Allen then fluked his opening red in the final frame and fully capitalised with a break of 62 to secure a stunning victory.

“It was just ultimate resolve today,” said 34-year-old Allen. “Shaun just kept making hundreds from long reds. My safety just wasn’t quite good enough all day. As the match went on, I started to score a bit better. It wasn’t as heavy as Shaun, that makes me look extremely average in that department. I made two very good breaks at 7-5 down to go 7-7.

“I’ve always been pretty good under pressure. Once I potted that brown in the last frame, I fancied myself to do a job. There was a lot of manoeuvring to be done, but I just took my time and didn’t miss anything simple. It was a nice way to get over the line.

“Personally, the crowd spurs me on. I like the crowd. The way Shaun played today, if the crowd were there, I would have been beat long ago. Everyone would have got behind him. It is our new norm, but it isn’t ideal. I don’t want to do that for too long.

“It is going to be very tough in the semi-finals. Considering how heavily Shaun scored today, I know I will have to play better than that against Mark. My safety wasn’t good enough today and I’ll need to be able to create a lot more chances on Thursday. If I can find a little bit extra, I don’t think I will be far away.”

I didn’t watch the first session, so I can’t comment on that one. It finished on a 4-4 scoreline, therefore the second session was basically a best of 9 match.

Shaun made three centuries in that session, out of four frames he won. He was good  – very good actually – in the balls but the other parts of his game weren’t where they should be to compete at the highest level. Since moving to Ireland, and practicing with Fergal O’Brien, Shaun’s safety has improved massively, but yesterday it went missing. I can only suppose that, due to the coronavirus, Fergal was unavailable for practice… and safety doesn’t come naturally to Shaun. Also, he missed a few routine blacks off the spot. Rustiness probably.

Mark didn’t play that well, but he stuck in there. You could see his determination on his face. The quote I put in bold in the WST report surprises me a bit. Mark suffered some of his more excruciating defeats, playing at home, with everyone in the crowd, their dog, their cat, and other pets, supporting him and wanting him to win. He didn’t cope well with that. He’s good under pressure when the pressure is generated by the situation in the match, I’m not convinced that he is that good under the pressure generated by the fans’ expectations. He got a few bashings on home soil.

The first semi-final is about to start. If both players play the way they did in the QF, Maguire should give Trump a proper beating. But this is another day, another match and I don’t really expect it to go this way. Maguire isn’t the most consistent player. On any given day, he can be awful or he can be wonderful. We will soon find out which Maguire turns up.

 

2 thoughts on “Tour Championship 2020 – Day 4 – QF

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.