SHAUN MURPHY proved to the snooker world he has returned to the big time after thrashing Neil Robertson to lift the Masters title for the first time.
The former world champion won his biggest title in years after beating the Australian 10-2 in one of the biggest final scoreline margins the tournament has ever seen.
Murphy, who has been a professional since 1998, has had it tough in recent years with no big silverware to his name until he lifted the Haikou World Open last year – which was his first major title in three years.
But the Dafabet Masters has seen Murphy back to his complete best in homeland soil and victory saw him become the tenth player to win the ‘Triple Crown’ of major events – consisting of The Masters, UK Championship and of course the biggest of the lot, the World Championship.
And with this year’s World Championship just three months away, if Murphy can keep up the performance levels which thousands have seen from him this week then he will certainly be a contender to lift the famous title he won for the first time ten years ago.
Nicknamed the Magician, Murphy has certainly looked magical on the table playing with immense and stunning cue power and accumulating many high scoring breaks so effortlessly – as if he is waving a magic wand at the table.
Murphy dominated Robertson from the outset and did not even need the evening session interval to come before completing a landslide win – the biggest seen since the Masters final became a best-of-19 showdown.
In a repeat of the 2012 Masters final which Robertson 10-6, it was Murphy who pulled the early punches in this one as breaks of 64 and 45 handed him a 2-0 lead.
Things were to get even better for the Englishman when breaks of 127 and 76 saw him move four frames to the good in little time. Murphy then made it 5-0 with a 43 clearance before a stunned Robertson made a break of 80 to get off the mark.
The next frame saw a brilliant response from Murphy as a run of 69 increased his advantage to 6-1. Any sniff chance of a Robertson fightback was kept alive when he won the final frame of the session to reduce his arrears to 6-2.
But Robertson received a huge blow at the start of the evening session when he failed to make the most of several frame winning chances which fell his way before gifting Murphy the frame allowing him to pot an easy final pink and black.
Winning the ninth frame was a big one for Murphy and his confidence grew further in the next as a break of 127 saw him go six frames clear at 8-2.
And Murphy closed in on his first Masters title in the next frame as a missed long red from an under-performing Robertson paved the way for him to 9-2 ahead.
And a break of 60 from Murphy in frame twelve helped clinch him the title in emphatic fashion.