By Nigel Slater
AN INCREDIBLE comeback from the jaws of defeat by Shaun Murphy secured him a place in Sunday’s UK Championship final.
Murphy, who is now just one more win away from winning his second UK title, came back from the precarious position of 8-4 behind against Ali Carter who looked destined for victory midway through the final session.
Nicknamed ‘The Magician’, Murphy produced the magic by winning the last remaining five frames by playing some aggressive and positive snooker.
Nobody in the Barbican Theatre thought it possible to see such a dramatic ending after Carter dominated most of the contest and looked well set on reaching his first UK Championship final.
Carter made the perfect start as he stormed into a 2-0 lead but Murphy fought back to win the next two frames.
This year’s World Championship runner-up then reasserted his control taking a 4-2 after knocking in the first century break of the match of 101.
Murphy won the next frame to reduce the deficit but it was Carter who went into the final session with a 5-3 lead.
The evening session saw Carter come the quickest out of the blocks taking a 6-3 lead with a 79 clearance. At three frames behind, Murphy needed to respond and a clearance of 59 kept in touch at 6-4 down.
Carter responded with a break of 80 in the 11th and also won the 12th frame to take a significant 8-4 lead at the mid-session interval.
But the crowd, expecting an early night, then saw the Magician produce the magic out of the hat.
A break of 76 launched his remarkable fightback and added the next frame with a top run of 49. Leading 8-6, Carter could do nothing to stop Murphy winning his third frame on the bounce as he made the matches’ highest break of 105.
A revived and confident Murphy then hit a break of 78 to make the scores level at 8-8 and take the match into a deciding frame. Something a few frames before no one would have thought possible.
Carter had the first real opportunity in the decider but missed a tough red with the rest on a break of 32. Murphy then made 39 before losing position which forced him to play safe with three reds left. A safety exchange followed Murphy knocked an excellent red into the middle pocket and added 29 points to complete a brilliant fightback.
Murphy, who won his first UK title in 2008, will face either Mark Selby or Mark Davis in Sunday’s finale. The second semi-final takes place on Saturday.