MURPHY EDGES TELFORD THRILLER
FORMER World and UK Champion Shaun Murphy edged his way into the semi finals of the UK Championship in Telford after a 9-7 victory over world champion Neil Robertson.
Robertson, who has never won this title got off to the best possible start by taking the opening two frames of the match. But this was to be merely a taster of what was to come as Murphy got the wake up call and replied with breaks of 70 and 75 to be level; at 2-2 at the mid session interval.
The Englishman, who won this title in 2008 was soon in front of his Australian rival as he took the fifth frame of the match with breaks of 44 and 26. But Robertson, was not about to allow Murphy to dictate the match as he squared it at 3-3 with a break of 126, only to fall 3-4 behind withy a 92 for Murphy. With just one frame of the session left to play it was left to Robertson to piece together a vital 40 break - and combined with numerous foul shots from Murphy eventually scrambled over the line to level at 4-4 at the end of the session.
Resuming it was Neil who had the better start as he banged in a 90 break to account for the ninth frame. Murphy though is not easily subdued and hit back with an 88. Never more than one frame in the match - except for the opening frames it was Murphy who claimed the eleventh frame when Robertson missed a yellow off it's spot and a 50 break was to prove sufficient for a 6-5 advantage before Robertson squared the match at the mid session interval with a 120 clearance.
Murphy took the next with a break of 72- and really should have gone 8-6 up, but after missing a blue off its spot in the latter stages, with the frame still alive for the Australian was forced to sit and suffer as Robertson stroked in the red from short range and made a critical 17 to restore parity.
But it was a grimly determined Murphy who dominated to lead 8-7 with the help of an early 31 and then powered in along straight red for a vital 49 to force a concession from the world champion, who now needed both of the remaining frames if he was going to beat the 2008 UK champion. And he was destined not to get either of them - as after a brief delay where the scoreboard stopped play Murphy returned with a vital 22 to seal a 9-7 victory over the world champion, and move into the semi finals.
Meanwhile Mark Williams ended the run of Mark Joyce 9-7 in a nerve jangling quarter final.
It is true to say that football is a game of two halves, well in snooker the equivalent is a session of two halves. No where more indicative of this than on the other table as Mark Williams jumped into a 4-0 lead over Walsall's Mark Joyce, only to be pegged back to 4-4 at the close. Joyce, had suffered the massive blow of losing a black ball third frmae after recovering from 54-7 to be in a position to pinch it, if he could roll the black from it's spot into the centre pocket. Agonisingly the ball stayed out and Williams was left with a simple black to the centre. And it wasn't a huge surprise when Williams accounted for the fourth frame.
But the mid session interval came to the rescue of Joyce, the former English Amateur champion as he returned refreshed to hammer in a 109 to avert the threat of the dreaded whitewash. Encouraged he took the sixth with a 91, and then claimed the last two of the session to level at 4-4.
Joyce, who had accounted for Steve Davis and Ali Carter en route to the quarter finals though was to find Williams a bridge too far and the Welshman hit his stride very quickly as he rammed in a 55 to move 5-4 in front. Joyce though, still represented a threat and Williams was to experience this in frame 12 as Joyce clinched it on the colours to level at 5-5. But it was here that Williams started to inch clear as he rolled in a 78 to lead 6-5, and then stretched his advantage to 7-5 with breaks of 44 and 50 after Joyce had missed a pink to the corner in trying to counter.
But watched by his dad Joyce dug in and carved out a brilliant break of 143, to take the lead in the chase for the high break prize. With the match poised at 7-6 in favour of the Welshman could the former English amateur champion find something. The answer appeared to be no as Williams won a scrappy fourteenth frame to lead 8-6. He needed just one more frame for victory. But Joyce was not prepared to surrender and captured a scrappy fifteenth to trail 8-7.
Yet it was to be in vain as Williams built a 35 points lead and with bits and pieces finally staggered over the finishing line to set up a semi final showdown with Williams.
Suzy Jardine - Telford