World number three Shaun Murphy got his season off to a solid start at the Indian Open, reaching the semi-finals.
Next stop for the Magician is Yushan in China, as he looks to defend his World Open crown. We caught up with him to see how felt ahead of next week’s event…
Shaun, you’ve got fond memories of the World Open having won it in 2014. What are your recollections of the tournament?
“I remember it well, I played some really good stuff that week and was pleased to win. We have a joke on the tour that everything I win gets cancelled, this one was the same because it didn’t take place in 2015! It’s great that the event is back, as it’s a really good tournament. I’m looking forward to getting out there and playing.”
It’s the first time that a ranking event has been held in Yushan. How important is it to keep taking the tour to new venues around the world?
“Massively important, we already have big events in Beijing and Shanghai and it’s good to stimulate interest in different areas. If we only ever had snooker in Sheffield it would never grow. The sport has a massive following on television in China, so it is really important to go to different places, so everyone gets the opportunity to see the action live and in person.”
A solid start to your season last week in India, reaching the semi-finals. Are you happy with how you’re playing?
“Very happy. I’ve worked on a few bits of my game since the World Championship and it was nice to see my practice being put into action. Unfortunately, the same guy – Anthony McGill – has beaten me in both of the last two tournaments. I couldn’t have thrown anything more at him, he just played really well. In best of seven matches there isn’t too much room to manoeuvre.”
As you say, you’ve had some good battles with Anthony McGill in recent years, most notably in two matches at the World Championship. What do you think are his strengths are as a player?
“I think he has a really good all round game. You can tell that he’s grown up practising with the likes of John Higgins and Stephen Maguire. The main thing I notice when I see him is that he has a fantastic temperament. When you watch him play you would have no idea whether he is winning or losing and that is an absolutely fantastic asset to have. I’d advise any youngsters trying to play the game to look at Anthony for his temperament. I really believe he could be a future World Champion.”
Another big story from India was the run of David Lilley, which you ended at the quarter-final stage. What where your thoughts on seeing David put in such a good performance in his first ranking event at the age of 40?
“I think it just shows you how tough it is to become a professional sportsman. I’ve known David for many years and he has been one of the best amateurs in the country. If he was on the tour believe he would do very well. It’s just a massive commitment now to become a professional and you need to be fortunate enough to have the backing of the right sponsors and your family and friends.”
You’re becoming a dad in the next couple of months, how much are you looking forward to it and do you plan to take a bit of time away from the tour?
“I’m so excited, Elaine and I are really looking forward to it. The family are ready to help out as well. You don’t really have any idea what to expect with these things until they happen. I’ll take a little bit of time off around the birth, but I’ll be playing in pretty much everything else. I’d imagine it will be pretty tough to drag myself away from the house, but you have to get on with things.”