2021 Crucible – Last day of the Championship

Today is the last day of the championship, and only two sessions remain to be played.

Yesterday Shaun Murphy started well, he lead by 5-3 after the first session. Mark Selby though came back in the evening “doing a Selby” … by that I mean slowing down, putting balls on cushions, making everything difficult. It paid off … of course, it did, and he finished the session 10-7 up.

Umless Shaun finds an answer, this is over already and Mark Selby will lift the trophy for the fourth time.

Ronnie was in the studio yesterday and he did suggest an answer:

Ronnie O’Sullivan offers Shaun Murphy advice amid Mark Selby masterclass in World Snooker Championship final

Betfred World Snooker Championship - Day Sixteen
Shaun Murphy had an evening to forget on Sunday (Picture: Getty Images)

Ronnie O’Sullivan has told Shaun Murphy that he needs to stop getting sucked into Mark Selby’s style of play in the World Snooker Championship final or he has ‘zero chance’ of winning and it will ‘haunt him for years’.

Murphy took a 5-3 lead into the second session but ended it 10-7 behind as Selby put on a match-play masterclass at the Crucible.

The three-time world champion turned in an all-round display of immense quality, but also his trademark granite mindset, remorselessly slugging it out and watching his opponent mentally crumble around him.

Murphy was finding it impossible to get any fluency as Selby either made breaks of his own or put balls safe and restricted the Magician to half chances with long periods of time between them.

In some ways it is a classic Selby performance, playing the match on his own terms and O’Sullivan says Murphy needs to change that immediately to have any chance of lifting the world title on Monday.

His head’s in mush, Selby’s keeping balls tight on the cushions, his head is in a jam jar, he can’t think straight,’ the Rocket said on Eurosport.

If they was to put scanners in his brain they’d be saying: “This fella is really not in a good place at the moment.

If I was to go into Murphy’s corner, I’d say to him: “From this point onwards, every time he goes to make the game scrappy you have got to get every ball off the cushion. Every time he puts one on the cushion, get two off.

“Get the balls out in the open, if you feel like you’re getting sucked into his pace and you’re walking round the table three times, no, get to the table, play the first shot you see then sit in your chair. Let him do all the walking around, driving himself mad.

There’s no point in getting sucked in and playing Selby’s game. The only way Murphy can win is with that other type of game, and even if he loses, do it on your own terms, don’t lose playing snooker like those last few frames, because that will haunt him for years.

‘He will look back at this final and go, “I was meant to enjoy that.” He needs to come out and at least say he enjoyed that final, and the only way he’s going to do that is busting balls out, get them off the cushions and playing the type of snooker that got him to this final.

‘Playing like that he’s got absolute zero chance.’

Playing ultra-aggressive snooker in the face of granite match-play could be seen as a very dangerous ploy, with Selby just as capable as anyone of pouncing on chances himself.

O’Sullivan doesn’t see it as a risk though, because Murphy currently is guaranteed to lose, in his eyes, so it will only improve his chances.

Sometimes you’ve got to sacrifice one of your soldiers to win a battle and you might lose a solider but you’ll win certain battles,’ said Ronnie.

Betfred World Snooker Championship - Day Sixteen
Mark Selby was in relentless mood on Sunday night (Picture: Getty Images)

At the moment he ain’t gonna win any battles, it’s a no-win situation.

‘It might look reckless getting balls out, but you’re sticking the ball in Selby’s court and saying, “Come and play me, come and fight me”.

‘He ain’t up for a fight, he don’t want that type of game, he knows Murphy’s gone now.

‘There’s no blaming Mark Selby at all, but don’t try and play that game if you’re Shaun Murphy, or anyone in the game!

‘It’s his only chance, it’s not his best chance, it’s his only chance.

‘John Higgins had to play Selby in the final and it went like that, not even the great John Higgins, even he crumbled. If he can’t come up with an answer for it, you’ve got to forget trying to compete with him on them terms.’

There is still plenty of time for Murphy to recover, with two more sessions as the players race to 18 frames on Monday at 1pm and 7pm.

That’s what Ronnie did in the semi-finals last year and it worked. Selby wasn’t pleased but he was out all the same.

Come on Shaun! Let’s get “disrespectful”! It’s your only chance…


3 thoughts on “2021 Crucible – Last day of the Championship

  1. Ronnie is on a roll here. But he knows what he is talking about, he did it, it worked and he knows how it feels when he doesn’t do it. I hope, Shaun will listen.

    (“Get the balls out in the open, if you feel like you’re getting sucked into his pace and you’re walking round the table three times, no, get to the table, play the first shot you see then sit in your chair. Let him do all the walking around, driving himself mad.” – Of course Selby will find it disrespectful too and complain. I don’ see them becoming pals any time soon… 🙂 )

  2. I always get the impression Ronnie wasn’t given enough credit for the alleged “hit and hope” approach last year.

    He wasn’t hitting and hoping at all, he’d worked out a way of getting under Selby’s skin and dictating the pace of the final 4/5 frames. It was a calculated strategy that, in my opinion, he’d worked on – how to wallop the balls and get them in the middle of the table. It wasn’t quite the kamikaze ‘devil may care’ approach that the commentators at the time thought it was, it was just relatively high risk and looked like his head had gone. He’s summed it up beautifully with the ‘if he puts a ball on a cushion, get down and get two off’

    I also remember a game in the Champion of Champions a couple of years back where Ronnie thrashed Higgins with an AST of about 13 seconds including exhibition shots on the colours. If memory serves, Higgins had whitewashed him the previous time they played, but on the ITV interview after the CoC match he said he didn’t know what had hit him.

    Of course you still have the have to pot the balls and build your breaks, but there was a lot more calculation to it all than first appeared, people would do well to remember that as well as all the talent and speed, Ronnie still has one of the sharpest snooker brains there has ever been. Murphy apparently watches all the snooker on TV so hopefully he’s been able to hear this insight…

    • He had hinted before the match that he was going to do exactly that, win or lose, but never agan being dragged into his opponenent’s game.

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