Ryan Day moved one step closer to claiming his first ranking title after seeing off defending champion Shaun Murphy 4-2 at the Ladbrokes World Grand Prix in Preston.
There have been four maiden ranking event winners already this season, most recently Anthony Hamilton at last week’s German Masters. Many are now touting Day as the greatest player never to have won a ranking event, he’ll be aiming to brush off that tag this weekend.
Last year’s winner Murphy has seen his seven match winning run at the event end and will need to pick up good results in the next three tournaments to ensure his place in the top 16 of the one-year list and gain entry to the Ladbrokes Players Championship.
The Welshman displayed the stronger break building power early on and managed to keep Murphy at bay. He made breaks of 68, 50, 50 and 47 to go 2-0 ahead. Two tremendous long pots helped the Magician halve the deficit. However, Day’s fourth half century break of the afternoon, 51, helped him go 3-1 up.
Day missed his chance to get over the line in the fifth frame and the world number 6 Murphy punished him to pull within one. The two-time ranking event finalist showed no sign of nerves and clinically finished off the tie in the sixth frame. Murphy could only make 17 off his initial chance and Day grasped his opportunity with a contribution of 79.
“I’m Really pleased with the win,” said Day. “Especially when he got in the sixth frame, luckily he missed the black and I held myself together. It would be massive to win my first ranking event. I can use the guys who have won their first one this season as a bit of inspiration. If you keep on believing in yourself and working hard then dreams come true, as Anthony said last week.”
The defending champion loses his crown, but afterwards he remained upbeat about his week’s work.
Murphy said: “It’s very disappointing to lose any title, but I thought it was a very good match. I didn’t really have a shot until the third frame. Unfortunately, I had a good chance in the last frame but I only scored 17. That’s simply not good enough. It’s been a good week and there have been positives, but I can’t afford to make those mistakes at this level.”
Scottish Open champion Marco Fu continued his sparkling run of form to defeat Northern Ireland Open champion Mark King 4-2 and will face Day in the last four tomorrow evening.
The Hong Kong potter displayed immaculate cue ball control as he stormed to a 3-0 lead. Fu made breaks of 72, 102 and 98.
King then showed tremendous fight to claw his way back into the match despite the relentless scoring power shown by his opponent. He compiled a run of 65 as he got his first frame on the board and pulled within one after taking a tense fourth frame on the pink.
Fu made the first significant contribution of the sixth frame with a break of 69. It left King needing snookers. The player from Romford squeezed his opponent hard throughout a safety battle which unfolded over the next 20 minutes, but Fu eventually won the frame and ensured his progress.