Jason Ferguson gives the latest on Turkish Masters, the upcoming season and possible new events
Phil Haigh – Thursday 13 May 2021
The newly-announced Turkish Masters will have a top prize of ‘at least £100,000’ confirms WPBSA chairman Jason Ferguson, who is plotting some more events around the Mediterranean in the near future.
After a low-key unveiling of the season’s calendar last week, with a number of gaps with ‘potential ranking event’ one of those gaps was filled in style with the announcement of the new tournament in Antalya at the end of September.
It’s a glamorous destination for the tour, especially after a year of behind-closed-doors action in Milton Keynes, and of the confirmed £500,000 prize fund, Ferguson says at least £100,000 will go to the champion.
‘It’s a full-ranking, flat draw, 128 players,’ Ferguson explained to Metro.co.uk.‘The intention is to take 64 players to Turkey, but we’ll hold some first round matches for over there, the world champion and a few others and it will be a minimum of £100,000 first prize.
‘I’m really excited. It’s been two years’ work for me, rumbling along in the background.
‘The promoter, a lovely guy called Tugba [Irten] has pulled everything together and made it work, it’s really exciting.
‘If I could send one message, I urge all players to support this event. This is one of the most beautiful destinations in the world.’
The players appear to share Ferguson’s excitement for a trip to Turkey in September – as long as Covid-related travel restrictions are eased by then – and they could have more appealing destinations to look forward to in the coming months as well.
‘I’m working on a few in this sort of area,’ Jason said. ‘We’ve had a lot of time to think in lockdown.
‘It’s been hard in Milton Keynes, it was great for us there, but we can’t keep going back to the same place. We need to get out and show the world what we’re doing.
‘It’ll be good for the players, good for morale and something to look forward to. I think it’s lifted the spirits a little bit.
‘I’m looking at a few other Mediterranean-style destinations, but it’s all to do with travel and countries opening up again, it’s hard to say too much at the minute.
‘That whole area is booming, the interest in snooker in the Mediterranean is booming and it’s not just ex-pats.
When the 2021/22 calendar was announced there was some concern among players that five slots were filled by ‘potential ranking events’ but Ferguson has allayed fears over these dates in the diary.
Restrictions thanks to the pandemic continue to make things difficult, but whether they take place in the UK or abroad, those gaps in the calendar will be filled.
‘Oh they’re happening, yeah,’ he said. ‘We’re in this difficult travel situation at the moment. We’ve had to hold on as long as we could.
‘Ideally we’d be qualifying for overseas events early, but we don’t know if we can do final stages before the new year.
‘We’re starting off with the Championship League [4-30 July], that’s a good way to get people back playing. Qualifiers for Turkey in the qualifying slot in August.
‘We’re looking at a revised WST Pro series, refining that into a better model.
‘There’s a lot of work to do. It might start gentle with some league-style things but it will gain momentum. We will backfill that calendar, we will fill it up.’
The fact that there will be a few held-over matches gives me a hope that Ronnie will enter. After all he remains one of the most popular players, if not the most popular player and the sponsor will probably want to be sure he makes it to the main venue.
One concern might be the conditions: at the scheduled dates the weather will still be quite hot in Antalya, albeit dry.
Mark Selby beat Shaun Murphy by 18-15 in the final, becoming World Champion for the fourth time. By doing so he became only the fifth player to take the title more than three times at the Crucible. That propelled him to the second place in the rankings, only £124,000 behind Judd Trump, and with a realistic chance to regain the number one spot in the coming season, something that Mark has set as a goal for himself.
Congratulations Mark Selby!
The last day of the Championship was played in front of a full capacity crowd. Thanks to Barry Hearn and his team snooker has been a leader when it comes to staging events, returning to normality and welcoming back crowds during and after the covid-19 crisis.
Mark Selby strengthened his status as one of snooker’s all-time greats by beating Shaun Murphy 18-15 in the final of the Betfred World Championship to conquer the Crucible for the fourth time.
In an exciting contest, Selby came from 6-4 down to lead 17-13, then saw Murphy battle back with two centuries, before getting over the line in the 33rd frame to take the silverware and a career-high pay-day of £500,000.
Champion in 2014, 2016, 2017 and now 2021, Selby has lifted the trophy four times in seven years; no other player has won it more than once in the same period. He becomes only the fifth player to take the title more than three times at snooker’s Theatre of Dreams.
Most Crucible Crowns Stephen Hendry 7 Ronnie O’Sullivan 6 Steve Davis 6 Mark Selby 4 John Higgins 4 Mark Williams 3
His game is purpose-built for the challenges of the 17-day Sheffield marathon. Seemingly boundless stamina, fierce concentration, an unrivalled tactical game and heavy scoring are attributes which make him the toughest match-player in the sport. As Stephen Hendry put it: “Selby is like a snooker vampire. He sucks all the life and adrenaline out of you. He’s just the most unbelievable competitor I’ve ever seen.”
Leicester’s Selby suffered a crisis of confidence in 2019 when he went over a year without a title. He questioned his own technique and lost his habit of producing his best at the business end of close matches. Coach and psychologist Chris Henry takes plenty of credit for restoring Selby’s self-belief. Even a 17-16 defeat against O’Sullivan in the semi-finals last year was processed quickly as Selby won the first ranking event of the new season – the European Masters – then thumped O’Sullivan 9-3 in the final of the Scottish Open in December. Without question, he is back to his best.
Selby becomes the eighth player to win 20 ranking titles and has now won 11 of his last 12 ranking finals; his only defeat coming at the one-frame Shoot Out earlier this season. With three Masters and two UK Championship titles to his name, he has now won nine Triple Crown events, bringing him level with Higgins and behind only O’Sullivan (20), Hendry (18) and Davis (15). Age 37, he may well have another decade at the top level in which to chase snooker’s biggest records.
Climbing from fourth to second in the world rankings, Selby has narrowed the gap on leader Judd Trump to just £124,000, and has set a target next season of regaining the top spot he last held in March 2019.
Murphy, the 2005 champion, had hoped to become only the seventh player to win multiple titles at the Crucible, and he would have set a new record for the longest gap between his first and second. The 38-year-old has now lost his last three world finals, having finished runner-up to Higgins in 2009 and Stuart Bingham in 2015.
Having knocked out Judd Trump and Kyren Wilson, Murphy came into the final full of swagger, and made a promising start, leading 5-3 after the first session. But he looked jaded on Sunday night as Selby won six out of seven frames to lead 10-7, and Murphy was never able to narrow the gap to less than two frames.
The £200,000 runner-up prize is a huge consolation for Murphy and rescues a season in which he had previously reached just one ranking semi-final, and that cheque moves him up from seventh to fifth in the world. The Dublin-based cueman also banks the £15,000 high break prize for a 144 which was the best of 108 centuries made during the tournament, smashing the previous record of 100.
For the first time at a British sporting event for over a year, a full-capacity crowd filled the arena at the Crucible, as snooker helped lead the way towards the return of all forms of indoor entertainment. The atmosphere for Monday’s afternoon’s introduction was sensational. As the evening session got underway, Murphy was handed the warmer reception, as fans hoped to see him battle back from a 14-11 deficit.
Leading 28-4 in the first frame of the concluding session, Murphy missed the pink to a centre pocket with the balls at his mercy. Selby punished him with a 66 clearance to lead 15-11. The Jester looked set to pull further ahead until he missed a red to a top corner on 44 in frame 27. Murphy replied with 30 then got another chance and made a tremendous 43 clearance, pumping his fist as he boosted his hopes of a fight-back.
But a safety error from Murphy early in frame 28 handed Selby the chance to make 40. He played safe then earned another chance and added 68 to go 16-12 ahead. After a scrappy opening to the 29th, Selby played a loose safety and Murphy’s 58 was enough to draw him within three frames at the interval.
A tactical exchange early in frame 30 was resolved when Selby slotted a red into a centre pocket, and he went on to make a 120 total clearance to move to the brink of victory at 17-13. Murphy pulled two back in quick succession with breaks of 100 and 110.
In frame 33, Selby made 38 before missing a difficult red to a baulk corner. Murphy replied with 22 then had another chance and made 35 before facing a tough pot on the last red along a side cushion, playing with the long rest. Others might have played safe, but Murphy only had eyes on the clearance. The red wobbled in the jaws, and stayed out. That was his last shot as Selby composed himself and cleared the table.
“It’s unbelievable to win it for a fourth time,” said Selby. “It’s such a tough tournament. To beat O’Sullivan to win my first title in 2014 was a dream come true. To win it tonight with my daughter Sofia there, now she is old enough to understand what’s happening, is on a par. Shaun played fantastic, he is a great player and great ambassador.
“A few years ago I had some really dark days, times were tough. All my family and people who are close to me will understand what I am going through now. This is a special one.
“When I came here last year I wasn’t too confident, and Chris Henry got me within one frame of the final. And by working with him this year I have seen an massive change in terms of my self-belief because I was fragile before. It is such a tough sport mentally and you can’t win this event if you doubt yourself.
“My aim now is to get back to world number one, but that will be tough because Judd Trump has been winning so much for the past two years.”
Murphy said: “Mark is super granite. I have known him since we were nine years of age and he has always been the same. I started the match well and he went into super-hard mode. He broke me last night and it was tough to give him a three frame lead, in the end that’s what made the difference. When I made two centuries to go 17-15 I thought I was in with a chance, but it wasn’t to be.
“Life has been very difficult for everyone in the last 12 months. I want to say a very deep personal thank you to everyone who has bought a ticket and come here over the last 17 days. Sport is nothing without the fans and we have been so delighted to have everyone back for the past fortnight. I am gutted to lose but thrilled to have been part of a great match.
“Playing Mark is like a forensic exam, he tests every aspect of your game. He has to be looked at as the best all-rounder we have ever seen. His long potting, scoring and tactical play are all extremely good and he has patience in abundance.
“I have shown to myself that my best game is still pretty good. Maybe my best snooker could still be ahead of me.”
Mark Selby won the match on Sunday evening: Shaun came into that second session leading by 5-3 and found himself trailing by 10-7 at the end of it, after that he was always chasing … in vain.
Shaun could not replicate what he had done in the semi-finals against Kyren Wilson, and that was largely because Mark Selby was able to punish about every mistake. That, and the fact that this was the Final generated immense pressure … and more mistakes. The strongest player under pressure won.
I’m not a great fan of Mark’s style, but I do unreservedly admire his skills, his tenacity, his strength and poise under pressure, and his unbreakable will to win. He is a worthy World Champion and definitely a great of the sport we love.
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 O’Sullivan offers Shaun Murphy advice amid Mark Selby masterclass in World Snooker Championship final
Phil Haigh – Monday 3 May 2021
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.
‘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…
Shaun Murphy came from 10-4 down to beat Kyren Wilson 17-12 and reach the final of the Betfred World Championship for the fourth time.
Wilson looked by far the stronger player in the early stages but the contest turned at the end of the second session when Murphy stole two frames to go from 10-4 to 10-6. World number six Wilson later led 12-9 but from that point Murphy gathered momentum and raced over the finishing line in the concluding session, making five breaks over 50.
Murphy goes through to face Mark Selby over a possible 35 frames on Sunday and Monday for the trophy and top prize of £500,000. Having won the title in 2005, he is aiming to join an elite group of just six other players to have held the silverware more than once at the Crucible.
World number seven Murphy has lost two of his three previous Sheffield finals; he was runner-up to John Higgins in 2009 and Bingham in 2015. The 38-year-old will be aiming for a tenth career ranking title from his 22nd ranking final.
Murphy’s performance over the past fortnight is a reversal of fortunes given how poor his form has been for much of the season. He has reached just one other ranking event semi-final, and before this event lay 18th on the one-year ranking list.
Adversely affected by lockdown more than most due to restrictions at his base in Dublin, his usual dedication to practice has suffered. But Murphy has found a wave of inspiration at his favourite venue, and has followed up his victory over world number one Judd Trump in the quarter-finals with another flamboyant display of long potting and break-building.
His swagger and confidence around the table are back in abundance while his attacking approach brings back memories of his greatest triumph 16 years ago.
Wilson finished runner-up to Ronnie O’Sullivan last year and must have believed he could go one better this time after beating Neil Robertson to reach the last four. But he made too many errors from 10-4 up against Murphy and the 29-year-old’s ultimate ambition of conquering the Crucible remains unfulfilled.
Murphy took the first frame of the final session with a break of 78 to lead 13-12. Wilson had first chance in the next and made 35 before suffering a slice of misfortune as he potted a red and split the pack only for the cue ball to go in-off. Murphy punished him with a 91 clearance.
Runs of 117 and 77 put Murphy 16-12 ahead at the interval. A break of 58 gave him control of frame 29, and he clinched victory with a shot which summed up his evening, planting one red on to another to double it across the table into a centre pocket.
“Apart from winning the tournament, this is the best feeling you get in snooker,” said Murphy. “Will I sleep tonight? I’m not sure. My game is in really good shape. I have run into people playing out of their skin this season, but this fortnight things have gone my way. I was 6-2 and 10-4 down but I kept telling myself the finish line was still a long way off. In matches of that length there is always ebb and flow.
“The crowd has made a massive difference, they have been my 12th man. They have fed me and I have tried to give them a bit back. I have always needed that big stage. All the top psychologists say you have got to enjoy it out there to perform to your best. There have been times this season where I have not really enjoyed it. But I have this week.
“It would mean the absolute world to win a second title. It would be a thrill to be in that club of players who have won it more than once. I’ll be second favourite in the final and that suits me down to the ground.”
Wilson said: “Shaun’s long potting – he was going for shots a lot of players wouldn’t look at and just hammering them home. When he gets that Rolls Royce cue action going he is hard to stop. The frame at 10-5 was huge, he raked in a long red and made it look easy.
“I am having to hold myself back from throwing the microphone out of the window. I am raging. I came here to win the tournament, not to get to the semi-finals. I’m still knocking on the door and I’ll be back next year.”
Wilson admitted he was annoyed by Murphy’s fist-pumping celebrations in the arena at certain moments of the match.
“I think it looks a bit silly, it’s not for me,” he added. “He has to do what he can to try to get to me, I suppose. I’m not going to say that did. Fair play, he used his experience and he’s a great champion.”
Losing by 17-12 when 10-4 up is quite unusual and certainly hurts. Shaun Murphy’s fist pumps compounded it all. I have a bit of ambiguous feelings when it comes to fist pumps, and not just in snooker. If a sportsperson does it aiming at their opponents and looking at them straight in the eyesI hate it because I feel it’s an aggression. But this was not what Shaun was doing. He was pumping himself up and getting the crowd excited.
Mark Selby, snooker’s fiercest competitor, beat Stuart Bingham 17-15 in the Betfred World Championship semi-finals, continuing his bid for a fourth Crucible crown.
Selby will face Shaun Murphy over four sessions on Sunday and Monday, and first to 18 frames will have their name engraved on the iconic trophy. Selby’s name is already there, next to the years 2014, 2016 and 2017. Another victory would lift him higher in the pantheon of all-time greats; only Stephen Hendry, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Steve Davis and John Higgins have won it more than three times at the Crucible.
The 37-year-old Leicester cueman will be playing in his fifth Sheffield final, having lost his first to Higgins back in 2007. The omens favour Selby – he beat Murphy 17-16 in their semi-final clash at the Crucible that year, and also came out on top 10-6 when they met in the 2012 UK Championship final, and 9-7 in the 2015 German Masters final. The pair have been friends since their junior days but neither will budge an inch over the next two days of combat on the baize.
World number four Selby will be competing in his 30th ranking final and aiming for his 20th title. A loss of form and confidence in 2019 is well behind him – with the help of coach Chris Henry he has rebuilt his status as a feared opponent. The disappointment of a 17-16 defeat against Ronnie O’Sullivan at the same stage in Sheffield last year was softened when he won the European Masters and Scottish Open earlier this season.
With a watertight all-round game and unrivalled powers of concentration, Selby will start favourite in a final in which his opponent may come at him with all guns blazing. Betfred make Selby 1/2, with Murphy 13/8.
Bingham had the initiative when he won five frames in a row to lead 12-9, but couldn’t press home the advantage and carry on his bid to become the only qualifier to win the title other than Terry Griffiths in 1979 and Murphy in 2005. He misses out on the chance to compete for a second Crucible crown, having won it in 2015, but at least has the consolation of a cheque for £100,000 which restores his position among the world’s top 16.
Selby led 16-15 when the match was halted at the end of the afternoon session. They returned three hours later and Selby made a break of 41, then Bingham had a chance to clear but ran out of position in potting the last red. Selby took the upper hand in a tactical battle on the colours when he trapped his opponent in a tough snooker on the green. Bingham missed it five times, and on the last occasion left a chance. Selby slotted the green into a baulk corner, and cleared to the pink to seal victory.
“It feels incredible to get to another world final,” said Selby. “It was such a tough game, Stuart is a great player. It’s strange to think he came here as a qualifier because when he’s like that he is definitely a top eight player. I was just hanging on to his coat tails all the way through and then managed to turn it around at the end.
“At 16-15 I was quite calm because if someone had offered me that at 13-11 down I would have taken it. I felt good in my game. Stuart made an unbelievable clearance to go 16-15. Then in the last frame I had a bit of run to get over the line.
“All the hours I put in on the practice table, all the sacrifices being away from home and the family – getting to a world final makes it all worthwhile. I need to be on top of my game because Shaun is playing as well as he has for a long time. We grew up together, there is only one year between us. We used to play together at Willie Thorne’s club when I was 14 and he was 15. We are still battling now.”
Bingham felt that Selby had deliberately slowed down the flow of the game at certain points in the tie. He said: “One shot took three minutes, then he just rolled into the balls. It’s close to gamesmanship. You have to question that. Does he do it on purpose or what? I wanted a free flowing game. In some frames a ball went over the pocket and we weren’t going to give each other a chance. It’s tough to lose a close game like that. Fair play to Mark, he came out firing today and deserved his win. I had one of those days.”
Whether Mark Selby’s lenghty pondering over shots is gamesmanship, overthinking or a kind of paralysis of the mind facing a stressful situation, only him will know. I have met Mark and spoken to him many times over the years. He’s always been friendly and always came across as a very decent bloke. One conversation we had at the 2011 German Masters remains vivid in my memory. Mark at the time was winning a lot of matches especially in PTCs, He was on his way be become World number one. Yet, there he was sitting looking flat. I asked him if he was ok, adding that he should fill confident given the results he was getting. His answer was a sigh and “If you say so…”. It occured to me that he was definitely NOT feeling the way myself, and probably many fans, expected him to feel under the circumstances. Feelings are not a rational thing, they are not always a reflection of the actual situation the person is in but they they are no less real for the said person going through them.
The semi-finals will conclude today and as it stands Kyren Wilson leads Shaun Murphy by 10-6 and Stuart Bingham leads Mark Selby by 13-11.
Ronnie was in the studio all day yesterday and the day before. Kyren Wilson had won the first session on Thursday by 6-2 and he was still the better player yesterday, but Shaun Murphy battled hard and he managed to share the session. He left the arena with a fist pump. They will play two more sessions today.
Ronnie was full of praise for both of them. Kyren in his opinion has become a much better complete player, whilst he likes Shaun passion.
Kyren Wilson turned in a performance that a prime John Higgins would have been very proud of at the Crucible on Thursday night, believes Ronnie O’Sullivan.
The Warrior took control of his World Snooker Championship semi-final against Shaun Murphy on Thursday, taking a 6-2 lead after the first session of their huge clash.
Within that session Wilson reeled off a block of four frames that will be tough to beat for quality for anyone as he knocked in breaks of 110, 72, 127 and 121 consecutively.
Murphy did well to hold himself together and stop that run of success with a good break of 71 of his own, but Wilson was right back at it in the last frame of the session, making 70 and eventually claiming the frame to end 6-2 ahead overnight.
The reigning champion, who was beaten in the second round by Anthony McGill, was stunned by Wilson’s performance and compared him to four-time champ Higgins thanks to his incredibly precise performance.
‘I’ve never seen Kyren play eight frames of snooker like that. He’s obviously been working really hard on his break-building over the years,’ O’Sullivan told Eurosport.
‘It comes in bits and pieces but today he was as good as anybody. Even a John Higgins on form would have been very happy with that type of positional play.’
So impressed with Wilson’s performance against the Magician that the Rocket believes he must now be the favourite to lift the world title, if he can keep it up.
‘He played flawless tonight, he just looked like he was bossing the game,’ said the 45-year-old.
‘I always say that a good young one will always beat a good old one and Kyren is certainly younger than Shaun but you’ve got to produce the goods.
‘You keep looking at these young players, but until they produce the goods like that it’s all potential.
‘If he keeps playing like that he goes favourite. Age plays a part, he’s got a lot less scars than the other players in the tournament.’
What made Wilson’s performance all the more impressive was that Murphy was playing well himself and O’Sullivan believed that even a narrower lead for Wilson would be considered a good result in those circumstances.
‘I think 5-3 or 6-2 would have been a fair score because Shaun Murphy was cueing well,’ said the Rocket.
‘If you can get 5-3 over Shaun Murphy when he’s cueing well, you’d take that. 6-2, you think, “Cor that’s an exceptional result.”‘
World Snooker Championship – Ronnie O’Sullivan tells Crucible rival: ‘Stop being a good loser’
Reigning world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan has said that Shaun Murphy is one of the few players he would watch play snooker and that he really rates him and his game. The Rocket also urged Murphy to stop being a good loser and to embrace the emotions that saw him celebrate his huge win over world number one Judd Trump at the Crucible.
Ronnie O’Sullivan has told one of his rivals to stop being a good loser and to keep showing his emotions if he is to win the 2021 World Snooker Championship.
The Rocket was full of praise for Shaun Murphy, who is taking on Kyren Wilson in the semi-finals in Sheffield, and said he is “one of the very few players that I would actually watch”.
But following that acclaim for the Magician, O’Sullivan also made the point that the 38-year-old must “stop being a good loser”, and that he would love to see more emotion from him, like when he celebrated beating Judd Trump.
“I really rate Shaun Murphy as a player, I think he is a good all-round power player,” O’Sullivan told Eurosport.
“I love watching him. He is one of the very few players that I would actually watch.
“It was really good to see him when he beat Judd [Trump], he gave it that [clenched fist], and you could see it really meant a lot to him.
I think he has got to stop being a good loser. You know, that’s the problem. When you become in your mind, ‘I want to be a gracious loser’, it’s not really a good thing as a sportsman.
“Losing has to hurt, because that motivates you to not want to lose, if that makes sense.
“So it was really nice to see that from Shaun. I think he will need that if he is to go on and win this title.”
That said, Kyren didn’t show huge emotions yesterday when he lost a frame in extraordinary fashion.
World Snooker Championship 2021 – Watch as Kyren Wilson gives away 53 points from one snooker
“Go on say it, say it, say it…” goaded Murphy as Wilson stared on with a face like thunder. It was a moment where Wilson was probably wishing spectators weren’t allowed in the Crucible as they laughed at his expense during the World Championship semi-final. Dominic Dale sympathised with the 29-year-old, saying on Eurosport commentary: “I would not be smiling either, I would be furious.”
Kyren Wilson surrendered 57 penalty points in a single frame during his World Championship semi-final with Shaun Murphy – including 53 from one snooker.
An extraordinary spell started when Murphy rolled up behind the blue near the yellow pocket, leaving Wilson in an unenviable position with the remaining reds lurking at the other end of the table.
Wilson’s nightmare began when he misjudged a three-cushion escape, striking the black perched ominously close to the target red. Seven more points for Murphy, adding to four he had received for an earlier penalty.
At the fourth attempt, Wilson finally missed the black. Unfortunately, he also missed the reds and so four more points were added to Murphy’s tally – the score 15-60 despite so many balls left on the table.
The crowd were starting to find it amusing, giggling each time the referee trundled back to the starting point with cue ball in hand.
Wilson next opted for a two-cushion escape to no avail. He went back to three cushions for attempt six, but he hit the black again. Six attempts, six penalties – including five seven-pointers for hitting the black.
“This is just horrendous for Wilson,” continued David Hendon. “That’s 39 points he’s given away now.” Plus the four at the start of the frame and it was an even graver situation. And the drama wasn’t over.
‘Go on say it, say it…’
“He’s never going to hit the black again… he is,” said a stunned Dale as Wilson failed with his seventh attempt.
It came down to the eighth attempt. Even with five reds and the colours still left on the table, Wilson had to hit a red or would be in snookers required territory. You can probably guess what happened next.
“That is unbelievable,” said Hendon, as his attempt brushed the black again.
There was one small consolation for Wilson. As he had moved into the snookers required stage, it could no longer be called as a miss. Not that Murphy could resist a little goading.
“Go on say it, say it, say it…” encouraged Murphy of the smiling referee, who refused and ordered a free ball.
By this stage, everyone inside the Crucible was loving it. Well, everyone except one man, with Wilson having a face like thunder. Hendon remarked:
The audience are finding it amusing. There’s one man in the Crucible who’s not laughing.
Dale added: “I assure you, I would not be smiling either. I would be furious.”
The episode had seen Wilson leak an astonishing 53 points without success, with his total of 57 penalty points one of the highest in Crucible history.
Murphy quickly got Wilson back in another spot of bother and finished the frame by rolling up behind the blue again. This time, Wilson stayed in his seat and conceded. Wise move.
‘He’s one of the few players I’d watch’ – O’Sullivan praises Murphy
The 53 points penaly came from 8 attempts. It’s a new record at the Crucible. The previous record was 44 points from 11 failed attempts.
Kyren was not amused. He was absolutely furious, understandably so. Actually after a couple of attemps I became convinced that the shot he was attempting was not on.
The other match featured two very lengthy frames during the evening session. One lasted over 63 minutes, the other one over 50 minutes. This is what you would expected when Mark Selby goes behind… Bingham is ahead though as he kept his cool
Stuart Bingham in control as Mark Selby warned for slow play
Mark Selby was warned for slow play as Stuart Bingham won four frames in succession to wrest control of their World Snooker Championship semi-final at the Crucible.
Referee Ben Williams intervened to tell Selby to “think about taking a stroke” after the three-time champion took over three minutes deliberating during an extraordinary 19th frame.
Bingham had fired a 131 clearance to reduce the deficit to 9-8 in the first frame of the evening, then looked set for a maximum before missing a red to the middle on 96 as he levelled the scores.
The next frame developed into an epic safety battle, with Selby’s extensive deliberations prompting Williams to tell him: “This has been going on for over three minutes now, you do need to think about taking a stroke”.
It is not the first time Selby has been criticised for slow play. At the Northern Ireland Open in 2019, he took six minutes to play one shot, longer than it took Ronnie O’Sullivan to make his record-breaking maximum break in 1997.
Although Selby fluffed his subsequent safety shot, Bingham could not take advantage, and the frame drifted over the hour-mark before a fluked pink and another loose safety on the black by Selby enabled Bingham to make it three in a row.
Bingham, who appeared to be relishing the raucous Crucible atmosphere in sharp contrast to his stony-faced opponent, proceeded to fire a break of 78 to extend his lead to 11-9 with four frames of the Friday evening session still to play.
The remaining four frames were shared and the session finished 13-11 in favour of Bingham.
Ben Williams may not be everyone’s cup of tea but he isn’t afraid of stepping in when needed. He wasn’t agressive and he probably did Mark Selby a favour. Mark tends to overthink when in trouble and the situation on the table was unlikely to change no matter how long he would further contemplate it.
Mark Williams suffered one of his heaviest ever Crucible defeats as he lost 13-3 to Mark Selby in the quarter-finals of the Betfred World Championship.
Selby is growing stronger as the event progresses and looks every bit the player who lifted the trophy in 2014, 2016 and 2017. He subsequently suffered a loss of confidence, but with the help of renowned psychologist Chris Henry he has rebuilt his mental strength and technical excellence. The 37-year-old Leicester cueman will face Anthony McGill or Stuart Bingham in his seventh Crucible semi-final.
Having beaten Kurt Maflin 10-1 and Mark Allen 13-7, world number four Selby has conceded just 11 frames in reaching the semi-finals. He has made six centuries and 24 more breaks over 50, while keeping his opponents under relentless pressure with his tactical intelligence. A winner of two ranking titles already this season, Selby appears fiercely determined to add to his trophy haul and take the £500,000 top prize.
Welshman Williams is also a three-time champion but has rarely been as comprehensively outplayed in Sheffield. Only a 13-3 reverse against Ding Junhui in 2016 and a 10-2 defeat against Matthew Stevens in 2015 can compare to today’s scoreline. The 46-year-old was outstanding in a second round win over John Higgins, but couldn’t make the step up to Selby’s standard.
Selby led 6-2 overnight and soon extended that to 10-2 today with top breaks of 96, 58 and 66. Williams pulled one back with a run of 79, and needed another frame to ensure the match would go to a concluding session on Wednesday night, but could not avoid that ignominy. Runs of 48, 50 and 54 helped Selby to finish the contest and he now has the rest of the day to recuperate.
“I felt great from start to finish – I have done since the start of the event,” said Selby. “It’s nice to produce that out in the arena. I watched Mark play John Higgins and he played great, although John wasn’t at his best. I knew it would be a tough match but I was on my game. It’s nice not to have any stress tonight, I’d much rather have the night off than be going out there again at 8-8.
“Hopefully I can sustain the same level and in a few days time win a fourth world title. But I’m not getting ahead of myself because I need to keep playing the same way. I will try to stay as calm and relaxed as possible. I don’t mind who I play next, when you are at the table it doesn’t matter who is in the other seat. If anything this means more to me because I know the feeling of being last man standing. That makes me want to go out and do it again.”
Williams said: “I was totally outplayed, I knew it was over once it got to 10-2. If Mark plays like that then no one can stop him.”
I don’t think that Willo fancied coming back in the evening either. The feeling I had is that he took the first for pride, and then just went through the motions. To his own admission, he didn’t believe he could still win and there was no fight left in him.
Mark Selby has been scary good from day one this Championship. He will take some beating.
Stuart Bingham made what he described as the best break of his career to beat Anthony McGill 13-12, setting up a semi-final with Mark Selby at the Betfred World Championship.
When it mattered most, Bingham compiled a fantastic run of 125 to finish a thrilling contest in style and reach the one-table situation in Sheffield for only the second time. The first was in 2015 when he went all the way to the title.
Having come through two matches just to make it to the Crucible, world number 18 Bingham is aiming to become the third qualifier to lift the trophy at the Theatre of Dreams, following Terry Griffiths in 1979 and Shaun Murphy in 2005.
Basildon’s 44-year-old Bingham is through to the semi-finals of a ranking event for the first time in over two years and now meets three-time champion Selby over a possible 33 frames on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It will be their first match at the Crucible.
McGill knocked out Ronnie O’Sullivan in the second round by a 13-12 scoreline but couldn’t repeat the trick. Remarkably, five of his last seven Crucible matches have gone to a deciding frame and he has now lost two of those, heaving suffered a 17-16 reverse in the semi-finals against Kyren Wilson last year.
Glasgow’s McGill won the first frame of the concluding session with a break of 106 to go 10-7 ahead. He had first chance in the next frame but missed the black off its spot on 7, and that proved a turning point as Bingham took four frames in succession with runs of 75, 51, 90 and 91.
World number 16 McGill had a scoring chance in frame 22 but went in-off as he potted a red on 19, which handed Bingham the chance to make 41 and go 12-10 up. Bingham had match-winning opportunities in each of the next two frames, but couldn’t make the most of them as gritty McGill fought his way back to 12-12.
And the Scot had the first opportunity of the decider, but after making 11 he was desperately unlucky not to land on a red after smashing into the pack off the brown. After a brief safety exchange, Bingham slotted a mid-range red into a top corner and was never out of position as he made his fourth century of the match and tenth of the tournament.
“At 12-10 I went into the reds and landed on nothing,” said Bingham, winner of six ranking titles. “After that I felt it wasn’t going to happen for me. Fair play to Anthony he came back strong to go 12-12. Luckily for me he didn’t fall on anything in the decider. My break was the best of my career.
“Last night I had a great sleep because I was so drained. I was a bit gutted to be 9-7 behind but I felt I hadn’t done much wrong. I have lost a lot of deciders this year and that can make or break your season. But this time I held myself together and maybe that’s a good omen.
“My game is getting stronger and hopefully I can keep scoring heavily. The emotion is coming out now when I think about playing on the single table for the first time in six years. It’s a totally different atmosphere. I will enjoy every second.”
McGill said: “I didn’t play that well today and Stuart played brilliant. I wish I could have put a bit more pressure on him. One part of my game I don’t doubt is my bottle. I made a great dish at 12-10, and then held my nerve for 12-12. In the last frame I couldn’t have hit the brown any better, but I didn’t finish on a red. I have played a lot of good stuff here, my game is so good right now. I won’t let today’s result get me down. What I am doing is working, I am going in the right direction.”
Anthony McGill’s previous match could have ended in a defeat if Ronnie had not got a kick on a red when in on 37 in the decider, this one could have ended in victory had he landed on a red after potting that great brown. That’s snooker for you. Sometimes the snooker gods smile on you, sometimes they don’t…
Stuart played like he did in 2015 en route to the title. If he can maintain this level, he certainly has a good chance this year as well.
Last year’s Crucible runner-up Kyren Wilson came from 5-2 down to score a 13-8 win over Neil Robertson in the quarter-finals of the Betfred World Championship, then stated his belief that he can lift the trophy.
Wilson beat Judd Trump at the same stage last year and once again got the better of one of the giants of the game to reach the one-table situation. He has appeared in at least the quarter-finals for six consecutive years and is now through to his third semi. Wilson lost to Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final last year; the only thing he has to do to prove his Crucible pedigree is to go one step further and lift the trophy.
The 29-year-old from Kettering certainly has the all-round game and self-belief to go all the way, having outplayed Robertson throughout the second and third sessions. His next opponent will be Trump or Shaun Murphy.
Australia’s Robertson came to Sheffield at the top of his game having won the UK Championship and Cazoo Tour Championship this season, but once again was not able to produce his free-flowing best on the biggest stage. The 2010 champion has not reached the semi-finals since 2014.
World number six Wilson made a 133 in the opening frame today to take a 9-8 lead. Robertson had first chance in frame 18 but made only 23. He didn’t score another point until he was 11-8 down as Wilson made breaks of 59 and 62 to extend his lead.
Wilson got the better of a fragmented 20th frame to make it 12-8 at the interval, then sealed victory in the next with a run of 84.
“I am delighted to get over the line,” said Wilson. “Today I focussed on what was at stake and what I needed to do. I channelled the positive thoughts and went for it. The century in the first frame today got me motoring. Neil can go off into the distance if you let him so I had to put a stop to that and make him think. He can go into his shell sometimes. When he is scoring fluently he is probably the best player in the world so I had to neutralise that.
“I wasn’t going to hand him the table and say mop them up. I was going to try to make him earn it and work for it. Neil started the match strongly, he had his scoring boots on. I had to get the best result I could out of the first session, and to be 5-3 down and then 8-8 last night gave me a great opportunity going into today.
“Last year Judd was tipped to win the event and I managed to beat him, this time Neil was tipped for it and I have knocked him out. I believe in what I can do, I can beat anyone on my day. I don’t see the point in being in this sport to just turn up for the money and say quarter-finals will do. If I lose in the semi-finals I will go away from here annoyed, it wouldn’t be good enough. I want to push on and I believe I can win it.”
World number three Robertson said: “I wasn’t able to reproduce the form I showed in the last few weeks. It has still been a brilliant season, it’s just a shame I couldn’t finish it on the single table here.
“I feel I lost it in the second session yesterday. Not every session is going to be free flowing, certain players will make it tough and Kyren did that very well against me. I wasn’t good enough to keep the game open. I allowed the frames to go on for too long and that knocked me out of my rhythm.”
Kyren got stronger and stronger as the match unfolded. He was well outplayed in the first session, came back strong in the second and won the last by 5-0. He’s full of self-belief.
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)
For once Judd isn’t blaming bad luch for his defeat which is refreshingly positive.
Judd was also asked to give his views regarding the outcome of the semi-finalsand here they are reported by Phil Haigh:
First looking at Selby and Bingham, Judd dismissed the idea that it would be a one-sided contest like Selby’s quarter-final in which he hammered Mark Williams 13-3.
‘It’s tough to predict, Stuart made an amazing break earlier in that decider,’ Trump said of Bingham’s epic 13-12 win over Anthony McGill in the last eight.
‘Mark Selby wasn’t really tested against Mark Williams, he didn’t put up much of a fight, he just kind of rolled over.
‘It’s hard to tell just how well he is actually playing.
‘Stuart’s someone who actually loves being back at the Crucible and being in the semi-finals, you can see how much it means to him so I think it will be a completely different game.’
Trump wouldn’t quite go far as predicting the second semi-final either, in fact he said it is a very difficult one to forecast as Murphy is not entirely reliable when it comes to his form.
The Magician was immense in the middle session of his win over Trump, but less so before and after.
‘Kyren and Shaun, I have no idea,’ said Judd. ‘It depends what Shaun turns up. If the middle session Shaun turns up it wouldn’t surprise me if he blows him away, but Kyren can put you out of your rhythm.
‘He [Kyren]’s a great player, great battler. He did what he needed to do against Neil [Robertson], just put him out of his rhythm, grinded him.
I think it’s a fair assessment of the matches ahead.
The only thing I disagree with in this article is once again the “shock defeat” tag. There was no shock. Judd had not been playing well for some time and Shaun is a former World Champion and a true showman. He loves the limelights and it motivates him big time to play at the Crucible.
Stuart Bingham required just 43 minutes to wrap up a 13-6 defeat of Jamie Jones and reach the last eight of the Betfred World Championship.
World number 18 Bingham is aiming to make history by becoming only the third qualifier in history to win the title at the Crucible. Terry Griffiths achieved the feat back in 1979, while Shaun Murphy was the most recent qualifier to claim the trophy back in 2005. Asian number one Ding Junhui made the final as a qualifier in 2016, but was runner-up to Mark Selby.
This is the first time Bingham has required the qualifiers since 2011, after dropping out of the world’s top 16 this season. He defeated Belgium’s Luca Brecel 10-5 on Judgement Day to clinch a Crucible place.
Next up for 2015 World Champion Bingham is an intriguing showdown with Scotland’s Anthony McGill, who reached the quarter-finals courtesy of an epic 13-12 win over defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan. Basildon cueman Bingham and McGill are level in their head to head, at 2-2.
Defeat ends a positive season for Jones, who only returned to the World Snooker Tour via Q School last year. He went on a run to the semi-finals of the Scottish Open before Christmas, as well as coming through qualifying to reach the Crucible. Jones beat Li Hang on Judgement Day and recorded a fine 10-4 defeat of Stephen Maguire in round one.
Bingham came into this afternoon’s concluding session 10-6 ahead. He wasted little time in getting himself over the line. Breaks of 111, 68 and 102 saw him sweep to the first three frames of the afternoon to complete the 13-6 victory.
“Coming through the qualifiers has definitely helped me. In the first match I was confident. Normally being in the 16 you have to wait three or four weeks between the end of the season and the World Championship. Going there and getting the confidence by winning matches, you can’t buy that. I was ready more or less from the first ball in round one,” said 44-year-old Bingham.
“I’m not sure what my record is with Anthony. I remember all the losses and I’m not sure if I have actually beat him. He is a class act. He’s happy in himself with the way he is playing. It was a great last two frames to get over the line against Ronnie, so I’m expecting a tough game.
“I always think you should play to your strengths and you look at Mark Williams with his carefree attitude. I know if I have a chance to win matches it is because of my scoring. I have to take my chances and go from there.”
Tournament favourite Judd Trump hopes he is gradually moving towards the top of his game as he made four centuries in a 13-8 defeat of David Gilbert to reach the quarter-finals of the Betfred World Championship.
The world number one has not been at his magnificent best at the Crucible so far, but has had more than enough firepower to see off the challenges of Liam Highfeld and Gilbert. Trump may face a tougher assignment in the next round against Shaun Murphy – if the 2005 champion can convert a 10-6 lead over Yan Bingtao into victory on Monday night.
Bristol’s Trump has been snooker’s dominant force over the past 30 months, winning 14 ranking titles in that period, while no other player has landed more than six. He captured his first Crucible crown in 2019 and now hopes to double his tally.
The key part of Trump’s match with Gilbert was the second half of the first session and the whole of the second, as he came from 3-1 down to lead 11-5, making top breaks of 114, 105 and 111.
World number 15 Gilbert took the first frame of the concluding session with a break of 68 to close the gap. In frame 18, Trump made 45 before running out of position, and his opponent made an excellent 79 clearance to raise his hopes of a fight back.
Trump regained the momentum with a run of 107 to go 12-7 ahead. He might have sealed the result in the 20th but missed the penultimate red to a centre pocket when trailing 49-12. But Trump clinched victory in the next frame by getting the better of a safety battle on the colours, potting yellow, green and brown to get over the line.
In the 1990s, Stephen Hendry was renowned for gathering steam over the early rounds, and Trump hopes he is on a similar trajectory. “It’s a long tournament, we are not even half way through and it’s very difficult to play well for 17 days,” said the 31-year-old. “Hopefully I am saving my best for the coming week. Now is the time to find my form and feel comfortable out there.
“I don’t feel as if I played well against David, but my scoring is there and I can’t be too critical of myself. My brother told me I am playing solid snooker. I will take any win against David because it was a tough second round draw. There are so many players looking good and a lot of the quarter-finals matches will be 50/50 games.”
Trump admits that if he faces Murphy next, he’ll be up against a dangerous opponent. “Shaun hasn’t had a great season but he is due a run, and he loves the limelight and being centre of attention here,” he added. “He still plays like a kid, and when the balls are going in it is intimidating to play against. You can’t feel comfortable against him because nothing is safe.”
Judd indeed didn’t play well. David Gilbert seems to continue to struggle when the pressure mounts. It’s a shame given his ability.
Shaun Murphy swept Yan Bingtao aside 13-7 to set up a last eight clash with Judd Trump at the Betfred World Championship.
Today’s victory sees Murphy reach the quarter-finals at the Theatre of Dreams for the first time since he was runner-up to Stuart Bingham in 2015.
The 38-year-old Englishman is now three wins away from a second career Crucible crown and a first in 16 years. His only World Championship title to date came after he defeated Matthew Stevens in the 2005 final.
The Magician will immediately turn his attention to a mouth-watering encounter with world number one Trump in the quarter-finals. Murphy trails Trump 10-7 in the head-to-head, but he can take confidence from having won their last two meetings at the 2020 Masters and the 2020 Welsh Open.
China’s Yan will be able to reflect on a season which saw him make his major breakthrough at the Betfred Masters, where he defeated four-time World Champion John Higgins 10-8 in an epic final to claim a maiden Triple Crown title.
Murphy came into this evening’s concluding session 10-6 ahead and it didn’t take long for him to move further in front.
Breaks of 65 and 59 helped him move one from victory at 12-6. Yan showed his class by firing in a run of 71 to stay in contention. However, Murphy took the 20th frame to wrap up the win.
“I’m really excited about it (playing Judd Trump) to be honest. If you are going to win tournaments like this, they all have to get knocked out at some stage. It may as well be in the next two days,” said nine-time ranking event winner Murphy.
“Judd looks like somebody who is building throughout the event. That is what the greats always did in the 90s and early 2000s. For me, I hope that I’m able to withstand the barrage of attack that is likely to come.
“I’ve come here with a renewed gratitude for the position I’m in as a sportsman and for each and every one of the fans who have come here this week. I’m grateful they have all turned up and it really has added something to my game.
“As a nine-year-old boy, I came here and lived the dream as a massive snooker fan. That is what got me hooked on the game. I came to this very building as a child and my love affair with snooker started. So to come here last year and play to nobody was very challenging. Although the Crucible isn’t full yet, it is better to play to somebody than to play to nobody.”
Mark Selby’s 13-7 win over Mark Allen at the Betfred World Championship means that there will be six former Crucible kings in the quarter-finals for the first time.
Selby pulled away from 8-6 to win five of the last six frames against Allen and book a place in the last eight in Sheffield for the ninth time. Next he will face Mark Williams, both three-time champions, while former winners Judd Trump, Shaun Murphy, Stuart Bingham and Neil Robertson are also in a tremendous quarter-final draw:
Stuart Bingham v Anthony McGill Mark Williams v Mark Selby Neil Robertson v Kyren Wilson Judd Trump v Shaun Murphy
Picking up where he left off in a 10-1 thumping of Kurt Maflin in round one, world number four Selby once again looked in full control against 13th seed Allen. He made three centuries and nine more breaks over 50 while outmanoeuvring his opponent on the tactical front. Having won two ranking titles this season as well as reaching at least the semi-finals of four others, Selby has self-belief in abundance as he looks to add to the titles he won in 2014, 2016 and 2017.
The Leicester cueman won the first frame of the concluding session to go 10-6 ahead. Allen trailed 55-22 in frame 17 when he knocked in a long red and cleared with 50 to keep his hopes alive. the Northern Irishman had a similar chance in the next from 59-5 behind, but missed the brown to a baulk corner which handed Selby the chance to go 11-7 up.
That ended Allen’s resistance as Selby made a 132 to move to the verge of victory then dominated frame 20 to finish the contest.
“I started off playing as well as I did in the first round,” said 37-year-old Selby. “My scoring was good. I knew if I wasn’t on top of my game I would have been going home. If you are making breaks over 50 every frame you won’t lose many.
“It’s an incredible line-up, probably the strongest for many years. It will be tough to win it, so if I managed to do that it would have to be up there with my best achievements. I’m looking forward to playing Mark. I get on well with him, he’s a great lad and a fantastic player. Hopefully it will be a good game for the fans.”
Allen said: “I thought I was in with a chance at 8-6. The last frame yesterday was important because 9-6 was hard to come back from. Mark’s safety throughout the whole match was some of the best I have ever seen. He is granite.”
Eventually there have been very few close matches in the second round. Other than the Ronnie v McGill match, only Kyren Wilson v Barry Hawkins was close.
The quarter-finals should be hard fought … hopefully!