SHAUN Murphy kept his hopes of a second world title alive after winning an epic match against Jamie Cope at the Crucible on Sunday night.
The 31-year-old slugged it out with a rejuvenated Cope all night at the Dafabet World Championship and finally fell over the line 10-9 in Sheffield.
Cope, 28, in his first appearance in the latter stages for three years, pushed his higher-ranked opponent all the way.
His confidence had appeared to be flooding back in the early part of the contest after a type of ‘yips’ that caused his hands to shake interfered with his career.
It was Cope’s first appearance at the latter stages of the blue-riband event for three years – but he revealed afterwards the condition had flared up again towards the finish.
Murphy, whose form has been excellent since January winning the World Open and a European Tour event in Poland, remains a possible quarter-final obstacle for Ronnie O’Sullivan.
He said: “If that is what this tournament has got in store for me, then I want to go home now.
“They are great matches to play in though…when you win. It had the smell of a 10-9 from very early on in the match.
“I have lost a lot of final-frame games here, so it is nice to get one in the locker. I feel about 75 after that.”
Cope said: “I’m not really too disappointed about the match, I’m more disappointed with how I felt tonight. I felt the opposite to yesterday.
I just couldn’t control my arm, that was all. I think if I felt like I did yesterday it would have been about 10-5 and I probably would have won.
I felt quite bad all the way through, I was just jabbing a few balls in here and there and I had no control with it.
There wasn’t really much I could do and it was the best I could do. The past couple of weeks it’s been a few steps forward and it’s been a big step back today.”
On a classic Crucible night of unrelenting drama on both tables Ryan Day of Wales edged past Scotland’s Stephen Maguire 10-9 in another high-quality encounter.
World No13 Maguire, who reached the semi-finals two years ago, fought back bravely from 9-6 down but Day held his nerve in the decider to seal victory with a break of 92.
“It was a tremendous match,” said Day. “It was a really good standard and I enjoyed it all the way to the end, even after he came right back at me.
“I kept my emotions under control as well as the cue ball. We are good friends, and I have a lot of respect for Stephen.”
Maguire has suffered poor results and a bad back since January – and insisted he was just glad to see the back of a “season from hell”.
Photographs by Monique Limbos