Murphy holds off Selby fightback

Published: Sunday 11th January 2015 by The News Editor

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Shaun Murphy held his nerve in a gripping finish to knock world champion Mark Selby out of the Dafabet Masters.

The 2005 Crucible king needed just one further frame to secure a quarter-final place when he led 5-1, but Selby dashed off four in a row to force a decider and then had chances to complete a stunning fightback.

But a missed black proved critical as Selby presented his good friend with a match-winning chance that the 32-year-old gladly accepted to wrap up a 6-5 victory.

Selby toppled Murphy 6-1 in the semi-finals at Alexandra Palace last year, and began Sunday’s tussle on the opening day at the north London venue in similarly impressive shape, rattling in a break of exactly 100 after being left a free ball in the opening frame.

Back came Murphy though, initially by winning a pair of scrappy frames but then with runs of 92, 55 and 56 that saw him almost to the point of victory.

Even then, Murphy would have been aware that Selby is a fearsome counter-attacker and he pulled out two frames in quick succession, making a 120 break in the process. Murphy might have tied up victory in the ninth frame when he led 44-12, but he missed a black that should have been tucked away and Selby fired in a merciless 54 before ploughing in 92 to level the match.

New father Selby, whose wife Vikki gave birth to their first child Sofia in November, has won three previous Masters titles, in 2008, 2010 and 2013, but this was not to be his day.

It became inevitably tense, both men missing rather straightforward balls with the match on the line, and when Selby could not sink a black he offered Murphy the big opportunity to put the previous four frames behind him.

The Sale-based potter suddenly looked sharp and a snappy break of 40 put him 51 points up with 35 left on, with Selby left to scratch around for a handful of snookers. They would not come for the 31-year-old Leicester cueman and Selby’s race was run when Murphy knocked in the final red.

Published: Sunday 11th January 2015 by The News Editor

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