Section: Snooker

Snooker: Murphy stuns Robertson in Masters final

Shaun Murphy thrashed world No.1 Neil Robertson 10-2 in the final of the Masters at Alexandra Palace to become just the 10th man to win snooker’s triple crown.

Robertson came into the final in imperious form after 6-1 wins over Ali Carter and Ronnie O’Sullivan but found himself 5-0 down as Murphy came firing out of the blocks.

The Australian won two of the next three frames as he threatened a comeback but Murphy held firm to complete the biggest winning margin in a Masters final since Steve Davis’s 9-0 whitewash of Mike Hallett 27 years ago.

“The first time I came to this great event, I would have been 11 or 12 and to finally get the win and the crown is unbelievable,” Murphy told the BBC.

“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.

“This time last year I considered going away from snooker a bit but I’ve turned it around. I’ve got some great support, some great friends and family around me, and they all know who they are.”

Murphy won several scrappy frames as he avenged his 10-6 defeat to the same man in the 2012 final, including the first of the evening session, when the Australian was first in with 51.

“I remember a few years ago he nicked a few of those tight frames and they really hurt,” added Murphy. “I had a bit of luck throughout the match but in all I’ve played well this week.”

Murphy recorded two 127 breaks as he added the Masters crown to his World Championship from 2005 and 2008 UK Championship.

“The first session was very tough, being 6-2 down. It was probably a couple of shots that made the difference between being 4-4 and being 6-2 down,” said Robertson.

“Shaun played very well today, he played fantastically all week. I just couldn’t produce the snooker that got me to the final but you have to put a lot of that down to the way Shaun played.

“He was brilliant in all departments and I’d just like to say, welcome to the triple crown club.

“This is our second Masters final and hopefully, the way we’ve both played the last few weeks, we’ll have a few more.”

Murphy quipped in reply: “I’ve got to disagree with Neil, I don’t want to play him ever again! If that’s what it takes to be world No.1, I’ll stay as number 11!”

Murphy now joins Robertson, Stephen Hendry, Steve Davis, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Terry Griffiths, Alex and John Higgins, Mark Williams and Mark Selby in having claimed the World, UK and Masters titles.

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Snooker: Robertson thrashes O’Sullivan to reach final

Ronnie O’Sullivan’s Masters defence ended with a whimper as Neil Robertson stormed into the final with a 6-1 victory at the Alexandra Palace.

The world No.1 snapped O’Sullivan’s 15-match wining streak in all competitions and will now face Shaun Murphy in a repeat of the 2012 final after the Englishman beat Mark Allen 6-2.

“Beating Ronnie here is a really special achievement for me,” said Robertson.

“It was an amazing atmosphere. That’s why I wanted to have a crack at him in the World Championship final last year, because he’s the only player who can create that kind of atmosphere.

“If you put pressure on someone in any sport they will make mistakes. You have to keep your foot down, you can’t let them back into the match.”

O’Sullivan was in trouble from the off with Robertson securing the opening frame with a 100 break, before the five-time champion missed a frame-ball black to allow the Australian in for a 2-0 lead.

That lead soon stretched to 3-0 before O’Sullivan made a 101 break in the fourth frame, a record 777th century of his career.

But the world No.1 went 4-1 up with a 58 break before reeling off the final two frames to complete the drubbing as he looks to seal a second Masters triumph.

“Neil played a great game and had me in lots of trouble,” said O’Sullivan. “I missed a lot of balls and made a lot of mistakes. I knew it was coming eventually because I’ve been scraping through matches.

“The last time I played good consistent stuff was here and at the Welsh Open last season. Since then I’ve probably only played two good matches – the rest of the time I’ve just been digging in. Neil played well enough to expose my weaknesses – he took me apart.

“I’m not the player I was 18 months ago, but I think I can get it back by playing in more tournaments. You can’t go missing for five or six frames, as I am doing. I had years of that, and it makes things tough.”

With his victory over Allen in the evening session, Murphy kept alive his hopes of securing a career ‘triple crown’, coming back from 2-0 down to win six frames in a row.

“A lot has been said and written about me needing this to complete the triple crown. As much as you try and ignore it, you can’t,” Murphy told the BBC.

“It does mean so much to have another crack in the final. When Neil plays like he has done this week, he is almost unbeatable. It is my job to try and find a nick somewhere.”

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Snooker: Allen scraps into Masters semi-finals

Mark Allen moved into the semi-finals of the Masters with a batting 6-4 victory over Joe Perry at the Alexandra Palace.

Perry had come from 3-1 down to level the match twice in a scrappy affair before Allen claimed the final two frames, and will face either Stephen Maguire or Shaun Murphy in the last four.

“For long periods of that match, it was embarrassing,” Allen told the BBC. “I just could not get anything going. I was delivering the cue so badly.

“That is sport for you and snooker in general, it can happen. I am happy I found something at 4-4 and to be in the semis. I have always had good bottle.”

Maguire faces Murphy in the evening session.

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Snooker: The Masters: O’Sullivan equals Hendry’s centuries record

Ronnie O’Sullivan matched Stephen Hendry’s record of 775 century breaks as he secured a 6-4 win over Ricky Walden in the first round of the Masters.

The defending champion made a round 100 to go 5-1 ahead before Walden fought back with the next three frames.

But O’Sullivan pounced in frame 10 and sealed a moment of history when a fluke on the yellow kept his run going to a 116 clearance.

The feat came on Hendry’s 46th birthday, with him on punditry duties in the BBC studio, but the Scot quipped: “It was a matter of time.”

O’Sullivan told reporters at Alexandra Palace: “I don’t think he’s that bothered to be honest, as long as he has the seven world titles – I think that’s the one that means more to him than anything.”

He added: “I’ve been thinking about [the centuries record] since I got within striking distance and I’m glad I’ve equalled it but it’s more about winning this tournament now.

“There’s a lot of expectation because I’ve won back-to-back tournaments [the UK Championship and Champion of Champions] and I’m going for a third.

“There’s a lot of pressure because the crowd in London want to see me do well. It’s great to have that support but it comes with that pressure because I want to keep them happy and keep winning.”

Next up for O’Sullivan on Thursday is Marco Fu, who made a 147 in his first-round victory against Stuart Bingham.

In the evening session, Ali Carter secured an emphatic 6-1 victory over Barry Hawkins in his first competitive match since being given the all-clear from lung cancer.

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Snooker: O’Sullivan edges Trump in epic final

Ronnie O’Sullivan survived a dramatic Judd Trump fightback to claim a fifth UK Championship title with an epic 10-9 victory.

O’Sullivan led 5-1 after the first session before Trump battled back by taking the next two frames.

Trump then fell 9-4 behind before making breaks of 120 and 127 to level the match, but fouled from a snooker in the last with O’Sullivan going on to take the decider.

“That is the hardest match I have ever played,” O’Sullivan told BBC Sport. “I was going through the motions and accepted I was going to get beaten.

“I didn’t know what day it was but I found something towards the end and was able to hold my position.”

O’Sullivan, who came to the tournament at York’s Barbican Centre with a broken ankle, has now won each of the UK, World and Masters titles five times.

His victory earns him £150,000, to go with the £44,000 he pocketed for Thursday’s 147 break against Matt Selt.

For the second major tournament in a row, after November’s Champion of Champions event in Coventry, O’Sullivan has beaten Trump to lift the trophy.

“I can’t believe I’ve won it. I don’t want to be playing him in every final. I feel like retiring,” said O’Sullivan, who first won this tournament days before his 18th birthday in 1993.

“He’s a tough opponent, he’s very dynamic and very explosive. He’s got so much cue power, he can pot like you wouldn’t believe. He’s fearless, and he’s in your face the whole time, and if you go off the boil he’s on you.

“I’m trying to make the most of however long this lasts. It gets harder as you get older but these are great moments. You’ve got to try to ride that ride as many times as you can.

“I’m going to enjoy this moment. I’ve won the Champion of Champions title and now the UK Championship. I’m delighted to have had a great few weeks and I can start to think about defending the Masters in January.”

Three years after beating Mark Allen in the same venue to win the tournament, Trump fell just short of what would have been one of the greatest comebacks in the history of the sport.

“I was giving in, but then I got to 9-5 and then I got a few chances and made a few breaks and felt good, and I made a really good clearance to reach 9-9,” said Trump.

“I’m a little bit annoyed I didn’t really have a chance in the last frame but I didn’t bottle it and gave it my best.

“I left it too late and fair play to Ronnie, he took them well in the last frame and overall he was more of a deserving winner.”

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