SHAUN Murphy showed why he is enjoying one of his most successful spells in recent times after pulling out the stops to beat Stephen Maguire in the Dafabet Masters quarter-finals.
Former Masters winner Murphy came back from 2-0 down to win a close and thrilling encounter 6-4 and set up a semi-final showdown with Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen on Saturday.
Murphy, who has won two European titles this season, is showing the kind of form which saw him surprise the snooker world ten years ago when he lifted the World Championship at the Crucible and tonight’s (Friday) victory once again showed why more triumphant times could be on the way for him in the near future.
Maguire, who beat Judd Trump in the first round, made a perfect start to proceedings as a break of 137 was then followed up with a 67 to take an early 2-0 lead.
The next frame saw Murphy enter his stride as a superb long red, one of many during the contest, set up a break of 103 before a run of 43 helped him on his way to level the scores at 2-2 going into the interval.
A break of 63 after the restart helped Maguire regain the lead before Murphy turned the screw on the match winning the next two frames to lead for the first time at 4-3.
A vital break of 75 saw Maguire level but the Scot, looking to win his first Masters title, missed a crucial long blue early in frame nine to allow Murphy a golden chance to take the frame. The Englishman made no mistake as a brilliant break of 103 put him back in charge at 5-4.
And Maguire’s hopes of reaching the semi-finals were dashed altogether when at 51-0 down a must-needed long red to the green pocket failed to find its target – allowing Murphy to seal the match 6-4.
Earlier in the day Mark Allen reached his second Masters semi-final in four years in a 6-4 win over Joe Perry despite not showing the Alexandra Palace crowd his best form.
Allen was fortunate to win the first frame on the black before Perry got his revenge in the second with a run of 49. A colours clearance gave Allen the third and breaks of 46 and 30 put him 3-1 up at the halfway mark.
Perry fought back winning three of the next four frames but Allen grinded his way to way to his first Masters semi-final since 2011 winning the next two frames.
“It was embarrassing at times,” admitted Allen whose top break was just a mere 55.
“I said after my first match that we are out there to entertain people, but that was nowhere near entertainment. It was as bad as it gets for two professional snooker players, let along two of the top players.
“But I’m proud of the way I stayed calm, and I fancied the job at 4-4, even though Joe had scored more heavily than me. I made a good break at 4-4 and didn’t miss much in the last frame. I showed again that I’ve got good bottle under pressure.”
DAFABET MASTERS – SEMI-FINALS
Ronnie O’SULLIVAN vs Neil ROBERTSON
Mark ALLEN vs Shaun MURPHY