MARK SELBY reached his fifth Dafabet Masters final in seven years with a comprehensive 6-1 defeat of Shaun Murphy at Alexandra Palace in London on Saturday.
Having survived two deciding frame finishes during the tournament, Selby made much easier progress as Murphy played well below his best.
Selby, the champion in 2008, 2010 and 2013 thus has the chance to join Ronnie O’Sullivan as a four times Masters winner and will face the Rocket in the final if O’Sullivan gets past Stephen Maguire in the other semi-final tonight.
The Leicester man was quick out of the blocks, making breaks of 86 and 104 to win the first two frames.
Selby also won the third before Murphy got going in the fourth but the 2005 world champion missed a pink on 48 and Selby cleared to pink with a run of 62 to land a huge psychological blow and enter the interval leading 4-0.
Trailing 57-20 with a chance to get back into the fifth frame, Murphy again missed a pink and Selby did enough for 5-0.
A whitewash was averted when Murphy won the sixth but the comeback never looked likely and Selby secured a scrappier seventh to advance to the final.
Selby said: “I did most of the damage before the interval. I think I played quite well to go 3-0 in front. I didn’t really give Shaun a chance until the fourth frame, where he had a chance to nick that one for 3-1. If it had gone 3-1, then he was still in the game and it could have been a different match but I managed to take a good finish out to go 4-0 up, which was pleasing.
“You don’t expect the top players to miss anything easy so I was a little bit surprised but it’s probably credit to myself that I put pressure on him, so he was under pressure to miss those shots.
“It’s a great feeling to be in the final again. Five times in seven years is a great feat. It would mean everything to win it again. Going into the UK Championship as defending champion and losing in the final made me more hungry coming here and now I’m in the final hopefully I can hold on to it.”
Murphy’s pot success rate for the match was just 74% as he struggled to reproduce the form which saw him knock out Ding Junhui and Marco Fu earlier in the tournament.
He said: “I’m really disappointed. It’s not what I came for, it’s not what I prepared for. I was never really in it from the first ball hit. I made a bad start, a bad break, and it cost me the first frame, and he played wonderfully from then on in the first session.
“3-1 is massively different to 4-0. It could have been so different but it wasn’t so I have to try and look forward. All I can do is keep trying to do the right things and hope things turn around.”
Photographs by Monique Limbos.