Shaun Murphy beat Ronnie O’Sullivan 5-4 on the last black in a dramatic quarter-final contest at the Kreativ Dental German Masters.
Fans at the Tempodrom in Berlin were treated to a night of spectacular action on four tables, with the maximum possible 36 frames all played. Judd Trump made a 147 but lost 5-4 to Mark Selby, who now meets Stephen Maguire, while Murphy will face China’s Liang Wenbo, a 5-4 winner over Ryan Day.
Murphy is snooker’s man of the moment having won four titles in the past year, including last month’s Masters. And today brought another landmark for the 32-year-old as he beat Mark Allen 5-4 during the afternoon session then scored his first ever win in a ranking event over O’Sullivan.
Breaks of 77 and 59 helped Murphy win the first two frames before five-time World Champion O’Sullivan stormed back with 74, 134 and 73 in winning four in a row. Murphy recovered with a 67 and added the eighth frame for 4-4.
Murphy made 33 early in the decider, then O’Sullivan had a chance to clear but, on 51, failed to gain position on the last red. After a safety exchange he had another chance at the red, but missed a tough pot to a top corner. Murphy held his nerve to clear the table to book his semi-final spot.
“It was special,” said Murphy. “It means a lot to me because Ronnie annihilated me at the World Championship last season (13-3) and my wins over him are few and far between. He is the standard. To beat him in a ranking quarter-final in high quality match – I’m very proud of myself.
“I’m just playing the shot that’s in front of me and not thinking about the state of the match or anything else. Against O’Sullivan you have to play against the Ronnie factor including his fans, and at the Crucible I was like a rabbit in the headlights. But I’m a different person now.
“Over the last couple of weeks people having come up to me to shake hands, take pictures and buy me a beer – which has not been so good for dry January!”
O’Sullivan added: “Shaun played a good match. He played fantastic snooker at the Masters and he’s on a roll, and when you’re confident it’s an easier game. He deserved it tonight. I had my chances. I struggled in the first two frames to get to grips with the table. Then in the last frame I thought I had it, but the pot on the last red didn’t set up right for me.
“I played better here than I did at the UK Championship so I’m going in the right direction. I felt I was building momentum.” He also joked: “I’ve lost to Williams and Murphy (in ranking events) this season – I might have to turn it in and get a job.”
World Champion Selby led Trump 3-1 after breaks of 87, 83 and 95 – with Trump making a 94 in frame two. After the interval the Ace fired his brilliant maximum, then made a 39 clearance for 3-3. Selby regained the lead with a 62 before Trump levelled again with a 69. And Trump led 31-0 in the decider when he missed a pink, allowing Selby to step in with a match-winning 60.
“I played as well there as I have for a long time,” said Selby, seeking his first ranking title of the season. “Judd played really well from 3-1 down but I held myself together well in the end.”
Trump said: “It was great to make a 147 in a big arena, not many players have made one in an arena like this. I was under pressure but I kept my composure.
“I should have gone on and won the match. I’m really disappointed because I had two good chances in the last. I felt as if I threw it away although Mark played well and it was a high quality game. It annoys me that I won’t be here tomorrow for the one table set-up.”
Liang reached the second ranking semi-final of his career – and first since 2009 – in another cracking contest. He made breaks of 67, 52, 57, 90 and 57 while Day knocked in 91, 132 and 85.
And there was more excitement to follow as Maguire edged out Neil Robertson 5-4. World number two Robertson was ahead four times and made a top break of 111. The Aussie looked set for victory when he led by 40 points with one red left in the decider, but suffered a dreadful stroke of misfortune when, playing a safety shot on the red, he knocked the black into a middle pocket from a tight angle and left the cue ball snookered behind the green. From the chance that followed, Maguire made a cool 34 clearance, including stunning pots on the blue and pink.