Mark Selby produced the run of frames when it mattered to put daylight between himself and Shaun Murphy – leaving punters asking whether The Magician has got any tricks up his sleeve to be able to mount a famous Crucible comeback.
Murphy’s Semi-Final Fireworks Can Give Him Hope
Selby’s four-frame burst on Sunday night has put him in the box seat to go on and become World Snooker champion for a fourth time, and he’s going to take some reeling in.
Selby, we know, has a pedigree for being a formidable front-runner – give the guy a lead and the chances are he’ll grind you into submission. And that’s the type of player who will frustrate the life out of Murphy, who much prefers being in amongst the balls rather than getting sucked in a drawn-out, tactical affair, the type of green baize chess which had BBC co-commentator Alan ‘Angles’ McManus drooling on Sunday.
Or that’s what we thought. Yet the evidence from the semis says this final might not be done quite yet.
Whenever Selby got his nose in front against Stuart Bingham he couldn’t pull away, eventually only winning 17-15. It was Bingham who covered the handicap. And Murphy should, by rights, have found Kyren Wilson simply way too nuggety, yet kept tabs on The Warrior before blowing him away.
Lack Of Big Breaks Can Add To Drama
These two players have met countless times over the years and the head-to-head record is close, Selby ahead 21-17.
And all logic says that he will now manage this final to its conclusion because he is such a calculating, organised player who will dictate the safety exchanges and strike when the time is right.
Except, of course, that he hasn’t been striking that decisively. Just six 50 breaks in 17 frames of snooker represents a drought in Selby terms. Murphy, playing as well as ever, can definitely get to 14 frames and cover the 4.5 frame handicap at
Two years ago at a packed Crucible, Judd Trump produced one of the venue’s great masterclasses, piling up seven centuries in a 19-8 demolition of John Higgins in the final. Higgins himself bagged four tons – their combined 11 centuries set the record for most three-figure breaks in a single match.
Twelve months later, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Kyren Wilson met in the showpiece and The Rocket won 18-8. That match produced just two century breaks, one from each player.
Incredibly, we are still awaiting our first century of this year’s final with 100 breaks now pitched at 2.5, 5/7 over, evens the unders. It’s 7/1 there are no more centuries.
There’s surely got to be a hundred down the line somewhere – but maybe only the one at
*All odds correct at time of writing