SHAUN MURPHY won his first full ranking title for three years with a dramatic 10-6 triumph over Mark Selby in the final of the Haikou World Open on Sunday.
Murphy raced into a 7-2 lead but was put under pressure when Selby closed the gap to just 7-5. Selby also came close to winning the last frame after successfully laying two of the three snookers he needed, but Murphy hung on to capture his first ranking title since he won the 2011 Players Tour Championship.
“Mark was under no pressure at 7-2. I knew he would come back and that I would have to wait for my chances,” Murphy said.
“Today was a good match. We both played well in parts. I’m so happy to win a ranking event again, it has been a long time. Snooker is a very tough game now so these events are hard to win. There are three more tournaments to go this season and maybe there's something left in the tank.”
Murphy opened a 4-0 lead as he dominated the first session before Selby gave himself hope by closing to 4-2.
However Selby, appearing in his 11th ranking final, having won three titles, potted only two more balls in the afternoon as Murphy took control with breaks of 98, 105 and 112 – the latter effort stalling when he missed the black from the last red with a 146 on.
When they resumed, Selby went on the attack and it worked. As Murphy started to miss, the Leicester man closed the gap to 7-5 but a run of 60 in frame 13 helped Murphy reach the final interval with an 8-5 lead.
Again, Selby came back at him, winning the next to pull back to within two again, and Selby had a golden chance to trail only 8-7 when he was in on 49 in frame 15.
But the world no.2 lost position and Murphy knocked in a long red and made an excellent 78 clearance for 9-6.
The final frame turned into a 46 minute epic, with Selby battling away for snookers until Murphy finally san the pink to land the £85,000 winners’ cheque.
His World Open triumph comes a few weeks after he won the Gdynia Open in Poland, his first title of any sort for 29 months.
He said: “There’s no secret to it. I’ve just been working very hard and practising every day for a long time. It worked in Poland and it’s worked here. On Tuesday I’ll be back on the practice table.”
Selby, who has also lost in the UK Championship and Masters finals this season, had to be content with the £35,000 runners-up prize. He said: “In the first session I started badly. Giving someone of Shaun's capability a 7-2 lead is hard to come back from. Shaun played very well all day. He punished me and won some really important frames, especially the one to go 9-6.”
Photographs by Monique Limbos.