Murphy sees good times ahead

Published: Sunday 3rd May 2015 by The News Editor

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Shaun Murphy believes he can spend a second decade at the top of snooker after his dazzling Betfred World Championship run.

Ten years on from landing the Crucible title as a 150/1 outsider, Murphy is playing with sky-high confidence and feels ready to carry off the trophy again.

The 32-year-old is aiming to make a habit of snaring the sport’s biggest prizes. He was level at 4-4 with Stuart Bingham after Sunday afternoon’s opening exchanges of the two-day world final in Sheffield.

This is his third visit to the final, with victory over Matthew Stevens in 2005 and defeat to John Higgins four years later his previous showings.

“I’ve had so many good experiences at the Crucible that they vastly outweigh the bad ones,” Murphy said.

“With my self-belief renewed in the last couple of seasons I’m looking ahead to good times.

“With the shape my game is in I’ve got another good 10 years ahead of me in snooker and hopefully at this sort of end of the tournament. In 10 years I’m going to get a few cracks at things.”

Bingham, 38, had plenty of support, after giant-killing wins over Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump carried him through to the showpiece match, with a £300,000 cheque waiting for the winner.

As the players settled and the crowd were hushed for the first frame, a voice from the back of the arena shouted “Good luck Daddy”. Bingham’s son Shae, three years old, had a strong sense of how important an occasion this was.

Also watching on were former Manchester United captain Roy Keane and Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrain, while seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry was a conspicuous presence behind glass in the BBC studio.

Steve Davis, the six-time winner, said of Hendry: “Stephen says that where he misses playing most is when he’s commentating on the final. That used to be him walking out there and now it’s two other people. And those are the moments where there’s such a buzz.”

When Murphy took the opening three frames, Bingham had problems, but he began remedying them with a punchy 105 break before the interval and returned to make 56 and take the next frame as well.

Murphy moved two frames clear with a run of 90, before Bingham took the scrappy seventh and drew level after making 65 in the last of the session.

With nine frames ahead in the evening session, there was certain to be an overnight leader in the best-of-35-frame contest. It was far from certain who that would be.

The finalists are close friends away from the table, and Murphy said coming into the title tussle: “What Stuart has achieved here this fortnight is unbelievable.

“I’m really pleased for him, he’s a good mate of mine, and what he’s done is great stuff for him and the game.

“He’s a fantastic scorer and a fantastic break-builder and it’ll be my job to try to use my experience and maybe keep him in the long grass as much as I can to try to stop him settling.

“But once he builds up a head of steam he’s very difficult to stop.”

Bingham dreamt of World Championship finals as a youngster, but a poor record at snooker’s marquee tournament led him to almost give up hope of fulfilling that ambition.

“Just to be in the world final, that means so much,” Bingham said. “At the age I am, maybe I won’t get many other chances.

“Shaun has probably got a good few finals left in him but for me it might be my one and only so I’ll try to make it count.”

Come the end of the opening session, Bingham was doing just that, putting himself firmly in the contest.

Published: Sunday 3rd May 2015 by The News Editor

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