China Championship 2018

Murphy An Injury Doubt For Llandudno

Shaun Murphy has admitted that he faces a race against the clock to overcome back and neck problems ahead of next week’s Ladbrokes Players Championship in Llandudno.

The world number seven was unable to compete and defend his title at the ManBetX Gibraltar Open at the weekend after the recurring problems flared up. He has also pulled out of the upcoming Romanian Masters, which starts on Wednesday. Murphy is scheduled to play his first round match in Llandudno next Monday evening.

Murphy said: “It is really bad. I have had some physiotherapy treatment and have a session tonight, as well as another later on in the week. It needs to improve quite substantially if I am to make it to Llandudno.

“I have had this for years and normally the way it would go is if I had a warning sign then I would call up the physio and go for an appointment. However, If I am being totally honest I probably haven’t been to the physio as much as I should have recently. I am still trying to find out what the root cause of the problem is. It has been allowed to get out of control and create a bit of trouble. I thought I had staved it off. I haven’t and I’ve paid the price.

“I really wanted to go and defend my title in Gibraltar and not being able to do it was extremely frustrating. I self-punished myself by watching every ball at the weekend out of a self-loathing and annoyed perspective. I just have to get to the bottom of it and free it up. I am hoping to make it to Llandudno. However, if things don’t improve then I will find that very difficult.”

This isn’t the first time the 2005 World Champion has been an injury doubt due to the problem. Murphy’s 18-15 Crucible defeat to Stuart Bingham in 2015 was one of the best World Championship finals in recent years. However, the 35-year-old has admitted that he was very close to being unable to take to the baize.

“On the Sunday morning before the final I was lying on the floor of the practice room so my coach Chris Henry could walk on my back to get it right. I was unable to hit any balls that morning and thankfully through intense physio work and Chris walking on my back, sticking his elbow in key places, I got myself in a position to be able to play. While having breakfast that morning, I was contemplating becoming the first person to pull out of a world final.”

The Triple Crown winner is hopeful that treatment can cause the problem to subside and allow him to compete in what is a huge climax to the season with the China Open, which has become snooker’s second most lucrative tournament, and the World Championship to follow next week’s Players Championship.

“The primary goal for me now is to get through the next few days, get my cue out and try to get back to hitting some balls. The Players Championship is a fantastic tournament to be in. You work all season to get into the top 16 of the one-year list to be there. The China Open is now a massive event for our tour and then there is obviously the World Championship. This is the end of the season. This is where you want to be in good health. I’ve a bit of work to do.”