SHAUN MURPHY produced another stunning Dafabet Masters comeback on Thursday afternoon to beat Marco Fu at Alexandra Palace.
Former world champion Murphy, 31, won five frames on the spin to win 6-4 and move into the semi-finals of the £600,000 tournament and hand his mum Jean a special birthday present.
A rejuvenated Murphy has endured a terrible series of results to date this season – but believes his run in London is payback for some hard graft.
The world No8 also recovered from 4-2 down against Ding Junhui in round one – and reaped more karma after signing autographs for fans in the arena when trailing Hong Kong’s Fu 3-0.
Murphy is looking to complete snooker’s Triple Crown with a first Masters title, having won at the Crucible and also lifted the UK Championship trophy.
Murphy, a 28-1 shot for the title last week, had a highest break of just 49 after five frames - but runs of 86, 81, 117 and 64 helped him home.
He said: “One of these days I will start a match the way I can finish them, I keep making it so difficult for myself. Marco played very well to start with.
“It was a real effort at 3-1 down at the interval to keep my chin up and try and come back. But us Brits make a habit of not giving up, we are in the capital, and this is the week never to give in.
“The temperature makes a massive difference to the way the table plays, that is critical to our performance and if there is a slight difference it can make us look very silly.
“There was an Arctic wind coming across with the air conditioning, trying to make it cooler than yesterday. At half-time they turned it off and the table played better afterwards.
“I knew I was playing well coming here, but it has been a long time since I did it out there in the arena and it is good to see it is still there.
“I have always had a lot of heart, I should say thank you to my parents for instilling that in me, never to give in. I might just have played the wrong shots a few times over the years.
“It was mum’s birthday today, Jean, and she told me she was setting herself up to watch the match at home. Hopefully that was a good present.
“I was asked for an autograph at 3-0 down in my chair, there’s nothing wrong with it. Maybe it could affect your concentration, but your mind is that fickle there is something wrong.
“Golfers do it by the ropes, and without the fans we don’t have a game.
“The comebacks have been missing in the past six months, I don’t know where my game has been. Maybe it has been a life test for me.
“It would have been easy to have jacked it in or thrown my toys out of the pram in the last six months or given in, but I haven’t done that and turned a corner now.”
While Fu was disappointed, in an honest assessment afterwards he admitted that Murphy had gifted him a couple of frames and that he had never felt close to victory even at 4-1 up.
Fu said: “Shaun played a lot better after he went 4-1 down. I am disappointed but I didn’t play that well and my long potting was terrible.
“I didn’t miss too many clear-cut chances to win it, I just didn’t do enough rather than throw it away. I think Shaun’s game is coming back, everyone has a transitional spell in their career.”