Murphy Likes Finals Again
Shaun Murphy produced a scintillating performance to claim his ninth ranking title in Cardiff on Sunday.
The “Magician” conjured up a bag of tricks as he outplayed Kyren Wilson in a one-sided 9-1 thrashing.
His second success of the season, the ease in which Murphy emerged victorious can firmly consign to the past his recent wobbles in title deciding encounters.
Okay, Murphy ended a six-game losing streak in ranking event finals by winning the China Championship in September.
But the manner in which he beat Mark Williams that day, scrambling past the Welshman 10-9 after blowing a four-frame advantage, may not have instilled him with a great deal of confidence in his ability to complete tournament wins more comfortably.
Three centuries and an overall relaxed display at the Motorpoint Arena would suggest otherwise now.
Since the start of 2017, only Ronnie O’Sullivan (17), Judd Trump (14), and Neil Robertson (12) have eclipsed Murphy’s tally of reaching 11 finals on the Main Tour overall – impressive company to be among.
Ronnie’s Coral Cup Reign
There are two huge ranking events coming up soon with the Players Championship next week in Southport, followed shortly after by the Tour Championship in Llandudno.
Ronnie O’Sullivan is the reigning champion in both of the Coral Series tournaments, but there’s a good chance that he won’t get the opportunity to defend either.
After the Welsh Open, in which the “Rocket” reached the last four before losing to Wilson in a decider, O’Sullivan has risen to 16th on the provisional one-year rankings.
That would be enough to at least see him qualify for the 16-strong Players Championship at the end of February.
However, O’Sullivan boasts only a narrow advantage over the chasing pack heading into the unpredictable Shoot Out, the last counting event, this week.
With £50,000 up for grabs for the champion, any player ranked between Gary Wilson in 17th and Ricky Walden in 36th spot could still in theory dislodge the 44 year-old.
Should O’Sullivan edge through to the Players Championship, he’d face world champion Judd Trump as the 16th seed.
It all adds up to an interesting upcoming few days at the Colosseum in Watford.
With his destiny in his own hands having entered, O’Sullivan is the favourite to win the single frame Shoot Out and all the best bookmaker offers can be found at bookmakers.tv.
Ray Reardon Looks Terrific
One of the highlights after the Welsh Open final was seeing Murphy being presented the trophy by six-time world champion Ray Reardon.
The Home Nations silverware is, of course, named after the Welsh great, who is still going strong at the age of 87.
In fact, many pundits and fans were extremely complimentary about the former world number one’s healthy appearance.
Suited and booted, and brandishing a beaming smile, Reardon offered a visibly proud Murphy with several genuine words of congratulations.
The Home Nations series has been a wonderful edition to the calendar since it was launched in 2016.
One of its best features is its recognition of a quartet of the sport’s greatest names courtesy of their association with each trophy – Reardon in Wales, Steve Davis in England, Stephen Hendry in Scotland, and the late Alex Higgins in Northern Ireland.