ALI CARTER struggled to fight away the tears after he was crowned champion of the Paul Hunter Classic – his first title since undergoing life-threatening treatment for lung cancer a year ago.
A brilliant break of 95 against Shaun Murphy in the final frame earned Carter his first career European Tour title and his first trophy since winning the German Masters more than two and a half years ago.
But the Essex man has faced much harder tests in recent times after he was diagnosed with a form of lung cancer after the 2014 World Championship.
The three times ranking winner went through a heavy programme of chemotherapy before bravely planning a return to the game.
Since then and quite understandably given what he has has to deal with, Carter has struggled to find the form which saw him reach two World Championship finals and victory in the German Masters two years ago.
But quite fittingly, Carter has returned to winning ways in the tournament dedicated to one of the sport’s most talented players – Paul Hunter – who died of cancer at the age of 27 in 2006. Hunter won three Masters titles before his death and in connection with his handsome looks was known as ‘Beckham of the Baize’.
Having gained victories over Jimmy Robertson, Mark Williams and Michael Holt to reach the final only World Championship finalist Murphy stood in his way for an emotional return to silverware.
Breaks of 61 and 33 gave Carter the first frame before Murphy responded with a break of 72 to level the scores at 1-1.
The Essex man regained the lead with breaks of 54 and 39 in frame three before he had the better of the next to take a commanding 3-1 lead.
Carter let a good couple of chances slip by in frame five as Murphy kept his hopes alive with a break of 83. The world number six then forced a decider after coming back from 56-7 down to nick the next, sealing it with a brilliant positional shot from pink to black.
And Murphy, who lost to Stuart Bingham in last season’s World Championship final, looked in a strong place to clinch victory but a surprising miss on the pink when leading 21-7 was to cost him dear as Carter made a brilliant 95 clearance to win the title in style.
Carter takes home 25,000 Euros and the victory will lift him up in the world rankings where he is currently in 29th place.