The 2023 Tour Championship – The Semi-Finals

The crowds have been poor during the past week, but on Friday the situation improved and yesterday was well attended.

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Today’s Final will be contested between Kyren Wilson and Shaun Murphy.

Kyren was in dominant form as he beat Ding Junhui by 10-5 (WST report)

Wilson Narrowly Misses Record

With one of the best performances of his career, Kyren Wilson made six century breaks during a 10-5 victory over Ding Junhui to reach the final of the Duelbits Tour Championship.

Wilson came so close to equalling the all-time record of seven centuries in a single match, set by Stephen Hendry during the 1994 UK Championship final, and equalled by both Ding and Judd Trump at the Crucible. His sixth ton put him 8-2 ahead and he had chances in both the 12th and 15th frames for a magnificent seventh, but missed relatively simple pots on 81 then 87.

The Kettering cueman goes through to Sunday’s final to face Shaun Murphy or Mark Selby when a top prize of £150,000 will be up for grabs. Victory would would give him the biggest title of his career so far, and first in a televised tournament in the UK. It will be his 13th ranking final and he’ll be aiming for a sixth title.

It has been an impressive season already for the world number seven, highlighted by his triumph at the European Masters in August. Earlier this week he revealed that his son Bailey was going through serious health problems, but with snooker put into perspective he looks serene at the table.

Wilson led 6-2 after the first session, firing runs of 130, 103, 115 and 100, and the 31-year-old raced away to 8-2 tonight with 107 and 118. Ding pulled one back with a 113, but was back in his chair in frame 12 as Wilson made 81 before under-hitting a red to a centre pocket from a tight angle.

The Englishman had a scoring chance in the 13th but missed the green on 33 and Ding replied with 84 to close to 9-4. The Chinese ace pulled another back with a break of 66, but when he missed a difficult red early in frame 15 it proved his last shot. Wilson made 87 and was just three pots from another century when, playing with the rest, he missed the pink to a top corner.

I’m chuffed by the way I played, especially against a class opponent like Ding,” said Wilson. “The only match I can remember where I played better was a qualifier against Anthony Hamilton where between us we had six centuries in a row.

I wasn’t aware tonight of the record of seven centuries. I wish I had done because at 8-3, if I had put the mini-butt on the cue instead of stretching for the red to the middle, maybe I would have potted it. I guess Stephen Hendry will be delighted that I didn’t equal his record. I have played great in both games this week and managed to win comfortably.

It has been a special week already. It has been a tough time for our household recently so it has been great to have the family up here tonight, enjoying it happy and healthy.”

Kyren looked absolutely unplayable at times in this match and Ding did well to get to five in the end. He fought really hard.

The second semi-final went to a deciding frame (WST report):

Murphy Beats Selby In Hull Thriller

Shaun Murphy edged out Mark Selby 10-9 in a fabulous match to reach the final of the Duelbits Tour Championship, remaining on course to win two consecutive titles in the series.

An outstanding contest, which featured two centuries and 15 more breaks over 50 in the 19 frames, came down to a decider after Selby recovered from 9-6 to 9-9, but it was Murphy who got over the line. He’ll face Kyren Wilson in Sunday’s final, where first to ten frames will lift the coveted trophy and receive the top prize of £150,000.

Their only previous final meeting came at the 2020 Welsh Open when Murphy won 9-1, but this time it will surely be a much closer battle, with both players at the top of their game.

Playing some of the best snooker of his career, Murphy won the Duelbits Players Championship in February, and now has the chance to add another trophy to a superb season. It will be his third final within six weeks as he was also runner-up to Robert Milkins at the Welsh Open. Murphy, 40, will be playing in his 25th ranking final and aiming for his 11th ranking title, which would put him ahead of Jimmy White on the all-time list.

The result ends Selby’s hopes of regaining the world number one ranking from Ronnie O’Sullivan and the Leicester cueman misses out on back-to-back ranking titles having won the recent WST Classic.

After sharing the first session 4-4. Murphy took the first two frames tonight with breaks of 71 and 100. Selby hit back with 99 and 75 for 6-6, before Murphy took frame 13. In the 14th, Selby had a chance to clear from 57-0 down, but missed a difficult pot on the final yellow along the baulk cushion on 45, handing his opponent the chance for 8-6. An excellent long pot on the penultimate red in frame 15 helped Murphy go three up with four to play.

Four-time World Champion Selby stormed back to 9-9 with breaks of 81, 78 and 106. But Murphy took control of the decider with a run of 59, and later converted a thumping pot on the last red to make sure of the result.

Mark never knows when he is beaten,” Murphy told ITV. “We’ve had so many great matches, tonight was another one. The crowd tonight was amazing. This is a massive event, we play all year to get here, and now it’s just Kyren and I left. I can’t wait to go head to head with him.”

Selby said: “I gave it everything, I never give in, that’s always my attitude. All credit to Shaun, he played great and it looked like he was going to score every time he got a chance.

It’s very hard to predict who will prevail today. Shaun Murphy has certainly been the man of the end of the season, but Kyren Wilson, having gone through a lot privately in recent months, is playing with freedom and if he can play that way today as well, we should have a very high quality final indeed.

Today’s match will determine the Crucible seeding.

If Shaun wins, he will climb to World number 4

1. Ronnie O’Sullivan

16. Ding Junhui

9. Luca Brecel

8. Mark Williams

5. Judd Trump

12. Jack Lisowski

13. Robert Milkins

4. Shaun Murphy

———————————————–

3. Mark Allen

14. Stuart Bingham

11. Ali Carter

6. Neil Robertson

7. Kyren Wilson

10. John Higgins

15. Gary Wilsom

2. Mark Selby

If Kyren wins he will get to World number 5

1.Ronnie O’Sullivan

16. Ding Junhui

9. Luca Brecel

8. Mark Williams

5. Kyren Wilson

12. Jack Lisowski

13. Robert Milkins

4. Judd Trump

———————————————–

3. Mark Allen

14. Stuart Bingham

11.Ali Carter

6. Neil Robertson

7. Shaun Murphy

10. John Higgins

15. Gary Wilson

2. Mark Selby

As you can see, the first and third quarters are now set.