Shaun Murphy’s Masters coup makes Magician Crucible contender
Shaun ‘the Magician’ Murphy will be aiming to clinch a second World Championship title after becoming the 10th man ever to win snooker’s Triple Crown, thrashing Neil Robertson 10-2 in the Masters final at Alexandra Palace.
Murphy, 16/1 with Coral for a Crucible win, comprehensively overwhelmed the world number one with his magical performances at the invitational event held in London, inflicting the highest winning margin in a Masters final since Steve Davis’ 9-0 whitewash of Mike Hallett in 1988.
Victory completed a famous Triple Crown for the 32-year-old, having already claimed the World Championship in 2005 and the 2008 UK Championship, ending a seven-year wait for his historic moment.
Harlow-born Murphy was jubilant after his latest exploits on the baize but admitted it was a difficult journey between major titles.
“When I won the World Championship 10 years ago I thought I was going to blitz through these events but I’ve had to wait a long time and go through some ups and downs,” Murphy said.
‘The Magician’ joins his Australian Masters opponent Robertson, Stephen Hendry, Steve Davis, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Terry Griffiths, Alex and John Higgins, Mark Williams and Mark Selby in having won the World, UK and Masters titles.
After sweeping Robertson aside, the world number 11 will now be turning attentions to claiming his second world title on the 10th anniversary of his maiden victory at Sheffield’s showcase event.
His magnificent Masters triumph has propelled the prolific potter to sixth-favourite for a successful Crucible campaign, with ‘the Rocket’ O’Sullivan still the 7/4 front runner for a sixth world crown.
Murphy, from Sale, Greater Manchester, has catapulted himself into a great position ahead of this year’s World Championship in May, as he searches for a sixth ranking event title of his 17-year professional career.
If the Masters champion is to clinch his second world crown, he would become only the fifth player after Hendry, Davis, Ray Reardon and Williams to win both titles in a calendar year.
His achievements in the game are made even more monumental having almost quit snooker altogether 12 months ago, after crashing out of the 2014 Masters to current World Champion Selby, who is 8/1 to retain his title this year.
The Englishman has made a remarkable turnaround in form and personal belief to achieve a historic career accolade this year. Murphy had to overcome fellow top 16 players Selby, Stephen Maguire and Mark Allen, before toppling Robertson in the Masters final, to vindicate his decision to continue playing the game he adores.
“This time 12 months ago I talked about giving up snooker, going off and doing something else but I’m very relieved I didn’t do that,” admitted Murphy.
After going down in history as one of the sport’s great champions, Murphy will seek further acclaims in this incredible season, beginning with the coveted Crucible crown which breaks-off on April 18th.